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Vladimir Putin arrives in Crimea on anniversary of 2014 illegal annexation

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Crimea on Saturday, according to Russian state television.

During a surprise visit to Sevastopol, where the Russian Black Sea Fleet is currently based, Putin visited an art school with the local governor, Mikhail Razvojaev, according to images broadcast by the Rossia-1 television channel.

The visit comes on the ninth anniversary of the illegal annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula by Russia in 2014.

“Our President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin knows how to surprise. In a good way,” Razvojaev wrote on Telegram.

According to Razojaev, Putin was originally scheduled to open an art school on Saturday via video link: “But Vladimir Vladimirovich came in person. He came himself. At the wheel. Because on a historic day like today, he is always with Sevastopol and its people,” he said.

Sevastopol has been the target of regular Ukrainian attacks since the start of the Russian invasion a year ago. In January, Russian authorities said air defenses shot down ten Ukrainian drones at sea, which were heading towards Sevastopol. And in October last yeara “massive” attack involving air and sea drones reportedly targeted the Black Sea Fleet, with the Russians claiming at the time that it caused no damage.

Also in October, a powerful explosion hit the road and rail bridge linking Russia with the Crimean peninsula, hitting a crucial supply route for Russian forces in Ukraine.

And in July of last year a drone attack ahead of Russian Navy Day celebrations left five people injured in Sevastopol, forcing authorities to cancel the events.

In April, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva, was sunk by Ukrainian forces in a blow to Moscow.

Europe celebrates Crimea’s birthday

European countries marked the anniversary on Saturday, showing their support for the Ukrainian people.

“Russia’s continued aggression violates international law and the Charter of the United Nations,” the Finnish Foreign Ministry wrote.

“Finland does not recognize the illegal annexation by Russia. We support Ukraine’s territorial integrity and efforts to restore it.”

There was a similar message from the Swedish Foreign Ministry.

On Friday, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin on war crimes charges over his alleged involvement in child abductions in Ukraine.

The court said in a statement that Putin “would be responsible for the war crime of illegal deportation of population (of children) and illegal transfer of population (of children) from the occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation”.

A Kremlin spokesperson called the arrest warrant “outrageous and unacceptable” and called the ICC’s decisions “legally void”.

euronews Gt

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