Russian President Vladimir Putin made a surprise visit to Crimea, arriving there himself driving a car, nine years after the annexation of the peninsula of which Ukraine claims sovereignty: this was announced by Russian state television. The broadcaster broadcast a short video showing Putin walking with a group of officials.
According to Russian state television, Putin paid a visit to Sevastopol, where Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is stationed. Russian television images show Putin, dressed informally in a blue cardigan and dark trousers, visited the local school of fine arts, accompanied by the Crimean governor, Mikhaïl Razvoiayev.
In addition to the Putin school of fine arts, accompanied by the head of the Patriarch’s Cultural Council, Metropolitan Tikhon of Pskov and Porkhov, he also visited the “Korsun” children’s center, a deliberate choice in view of the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court against the Russian President, accused of having ordered the forced deportation of Ukrainian minors. The Korsun center will host children who come to Crimea for holidays and to visit the peninsula.
On the occasion of the anniversary, Putin reiterated: “Obviously, security issues have top priority for Crimea and Sevastopol. We will do whatever is necessary to fend off any threat.”
Both the art school and the children’s center are part of the first phase of the construction of an archaeological park in the city designed for the little ones. The modern art school will be a place where young creative people residing in Sevastopol can explore the world’s artistic heritage through the examples of ancient and Byzantine monuments. Putin then visited the archaeological site at the ruins of the ancient Greek city of Sevastopol.
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhayev as he arrives to visit the Children’s Art and Aesthetics Center in Sevastopol, Crimea
The Russian president traditionally participates in the events of March 18. And he repeatedly took part in gala concerts dedicated to this date at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow and repeatedly visited the Crimea. In December 2022 he went to the Crimean bridge, which was undergoing repairs after a powerful explosion (October 2022) which caused part of it to collapse.
According to Russian state television, Putin reached Sevastopol on a direct flight from Moscow, and personally drove the car in which he toured the city with the governor.
The governor of Sevastopol has reacted enthusiastically to the surprise visit of the Russian leader. “Our president knows how to surprise us, in a good way – he wrote on Telegram – Today we had to inaugurate an art school for children. Everything was ready for a video conference and a special connection with the president. But in the end the president came personally. In the car. He was himself at the wheel. On this historic day, the president is always with Sevastopol and its people. Our country has an incredible leader.”
Yesterday the international arrest warrant issued by the ICC for Putin
Yesterday the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against Putin holding him “responsible for the war crime of illegally deporting children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia”.
International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Karim Kahn argues that Russian President Vladimir Putin can be tried even though Moscow claims it is not subject to the decisions of the international body. In an interview with CNN the day after the ICC’s decision, Kahn recalled the historic trials of Nazi war criminals, former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic and former Liberian leader Charles Taylor, as examples of seemingly untouchable figures who have faced justice. “They were all powerful figures, yet they found themselves in courtrooms,” he said.
Russia is among the countries that have not signed the international treaty which established the Court in The Hague. For this, it is considered unlikely that Putin will be tried in court, but Kahn does not think so. Putin, he stressed, is the first head of a permanent member state of the United Nations Security Council to receive an arrest warrant from the court.