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Putin in Crimea to mark nine years since annexation - a day after war crimes arrest warrant

Vladimir Putin has been in Crimea to mark the ninth anniversary of the Black Sea peninsula's annexation from Ukraine.

The Russian president made the 1,132-mile plane journey from Moscow to Sevastopol - Crimea's largest city - a day after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him.

The court says he is responsible for the abduction of hundreds of Ukrainian children since Russia's full invasion of the country began in February last year.

In Crimea, he was greeted by Mikhail Razvozhayev - the Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol - before visiting an art school and a children's centre.

Mr Putin's remarks were not broadcast by state media but as recently as Friday, he was talking about the importance of holding on to Crimea.

"Obviously, security issues take top priority for Crimea and Sevastopol now," he said.

"We will do everything needed to fend off any threats."

Most of the world considers Russia's annexation of Crimea to be illegal, and Ukraine has said it will fight to get the region back.

Read more:
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Meanwhile, Mr Putin has not commented publicly on the International Criminal Court's arrest warrant, but his spokesman called it "null and void" on Friday.

Russia does not recognise the jurisdiction of the court, which is based in The Hague.

It also does not extradite its citizens to face the court's justice, meaning Mr Putin is unlikely to ever face trial there.

Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported on Saturday evening that the country's foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova had said that any peace settlement with Ukraine should require the "abolition of all illegal sanctions and lawsuits against the Russian Federation in international courts".

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In other news, Ukrainian authorities reported a number of Russian attacks between Friday night and Saturday morning.

The Ukrainian air force command said on Telegram that 11 out of 16 drones were shot down during attacks targeting the capital Kyiv, and the western Lviv province, among other areas.

Russia is still concentrating most of its offensive power in Ukraine's industrial east - centres such as Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Marinka and Shakhtarsk.