KYIV, Ukraine (AP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Crimea to mark the ninth anniversary of the Black Sea peninsula’s annexation from Ukraine on Saturday, the day after the International Criminal Court’ issued an arrest warrant for the Russian leader accusing him of war crimes.Putin visited an art school and a children’s center, locations that appeared to have been chosen in response to the court's action on Friday.The court specifically accused him Friday of bearing personal responsibility for the abductions of children from Ukraine during Russia's full-scale invasion of the neighboring country that started almost 13 months ago.Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a move that most of the world denounced as illegal.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has demanded that Russia withdraw from the peninsula as well as the areas it has occupied since last year.Putin has shown no intention of relinquishing the Kremlin’s gains.
Instead, he stressed Friday the importance of holding Crimea."Obviously, security issues take top priority for Crimea and Sevastopol now," he said, referring to Crimea’s largest city. "We will do everything needed to fend off any threats."Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on the social and economic development of Crimea and Sevastopol via a video link at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 17, 2023. (Photo by Mikhail Metzel/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images) RELATED: ICC issues arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin over Ukraine war crimesThe ICC's arrest warrant was the first issued against a leader of one of the five permanent members of the U.N.