AOn Saturday, the ninth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin paid a personal visit to the Ukrainian peninsula in the Black Sea. At the height of the war in Ukraine, Putin made a surprise trip to the port city of Sevastopol, the home port of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, Russian television reported. Meanwhile, Ukraine reported new drone strikes in the west of the country, in particular, in the area of Lemberg (Lviv).
This was the first visit of the head of the Kremlin to Crimea since the beginning of Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Russia incorporated Crimea into its territory on March 18, 2014. The annexation was preceded by a referendum, which was not recognized by Kiev and the international community. The annexation was followed by sanctions by Western states, which have sharply tightened since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Putin attended an art school in Sevastopol, accompanied by the local governor, Mikhail Rasvozhaev, the Rossiya-1 TV channel reported. Sevastopol is only 240 kilometers from the city of Kherson, which was recaptured by the Ukrainian army in November after the withdrawal of Russian troops. The President of Russia has never been closer to the front since the beginning of the war.
Last visit in 2021
“Our President Vladimir Vladimirovich knows how to surprise. In the truest sense of the word, ”the governor explained in the Telegram online service. In fact, Putin wanted to take part in the opening of a children’s art school via video link. “But Vladimir Vladimirovich came personally. Steering. Because on such a historic day as today, he is always with Sevastopol and its inhabitants.”
Putin’s last visit to Crimea was in 2021. In May 2018, he also opened a bridge connecting Crimea and the Russian mainland by personally driving a truck over it.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in January that he wanted to take back Crimea, “our country,” by force of arms. Moscow, on the other hand, continues to emphasize that Crimea is Russian and refuses to negotiate over it.
Kremlin loyal demonstrators
In Moscow, on the anniversary of the annexation of Crimea, pro-Kremlin activists demonstrated in front of the embassies of 20 countries classified as “unfriendly”, including Germany, the US, the UK and Poland. They “support Ukraine (…) and are actively supplying lethal weapons to the Ukrainian regime,” said the Young Guard youth movement.
The “plan” of Ukrainian President and US President Joe Biden is to “take back Crimea with this lethal weapon,” movement leader Anton Demidov said outside the US embassy, where some 400 people were demonstrating. The movement estimated the number of demonstrators at a total of 5,000.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian army said that on Friday evening, the Russian army attacked Ukraine with Iranian-made drones. Eleven of the 16 drones were “destroyed”.
The area around Lemberg (Lviv) in far western Ukraine has been reported to have been hit particularly hard by drones. “At about 01:00, our district was attacked by Shahed-136 kamikaze drones,” Governor Maksim Kositsky said. He added that three drones were shot down, three more hit non-residential houses. There was damage, but no one was hurt.
According to the Ukrainian authorities, three drones were also shot down in the Dnipro region in the southeast. There, too, there were no casualties, but in Novomoskovsk “vital infrastructure” was damaged, a fire broke out, four houses burned down and six were damaged.
However, all drones aimed at the capital Kyiv were shot down by Ukrainian air defense, the city administration said.
Source: Frantfurter Allgemeine