President of Russia Vladimir Putin travelled 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.

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti said Putin visited an art school and a children’s center, places that appeared to have been chosen in response to the court’s action.

The court specifically accused him on Friday of bearing personal responsibility for the abduction of children from Ukraine during Russia’s full-scale invasion of the neighboring country that began nearly 13 months ago.

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Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a move most of the world condemned as illegal. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has demanded that Russia withdraw from the peninsula and the territories it has occupied since last year.

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Putin has shown no intention of giving up the Kremlin’s gains. Instead, he stressed on Friday the importance of holding Crimea.

“Obviously, security issues have the highest priority for Crimea and Sevastopol now,” he said, referring to Crimea’s largest city. “We will do whatever is necessary to repel any threat.”

Putin took a plane to travel the 1,821 kilometers (1,132 miles) from Moscow to Sevastopol, where he took the wheel of the car that transported him around the city, according to Moscow-installed governor Mikhail Razvozhaev.

Along with the art school and children’s center, Putin also toured the archaeological site at the ruins of the ancient Greek city of Chersonesos, according to Russian state media.

The ICC arrest warrant was the first issued against a leader of one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. The court, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands, also issued an arrest warrant for Maria Lvova-Belova, the Commissioner for Children’s Rights at the Office of the President of the Russian Federation.

Click to play video: 'Arrest warrant issued for Vladimir Putin by ICC, Kremlin declares invalid''

Arrest warrant issued for Vladimir Putin by ICC, Kremlin declares it ‘invalid’

The move was immediately dismissed by Moscow _ and welcomed by Ukraine as a major breakthrough. However, its practical consequences may be limited as the chances of Putin being tried at the ICC are highly unlikely as Moscow does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction or extradite its nationals.

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Widespread Russian attacks continued in Ukraine after the court’s announcement. Ukraine was attacked by 16 Russian drones on Friday night, the Ukrainian Air Force reported early Saturday.

In a letter on Telegram, the air force command said that 11 out of 16 drones were shot down “in the central, western and eastern regions.” Among the areas targeted were the capital Kyiv and western Lviv province.

The head of Kyiv’s city administration, Serhii Popko, said Ukrainian air defenses shot down all drones heading towards the Ukrainian capital, while Lviv regional governor Maksym Kozytskyi said on Saturday that three of six drones were shot down, with the other three hitting a district bordering Poland .

According to the Ukrainian Air Force, the attacks were carried out from the eastern coast of the Sea of ​​Azov and Russia’s Bryansk province, which borders Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military also said in its regular update on Saturday morning that in the past 24 hours, Russian forces had carried out 34 airstrikes, one missile attack and 57 shots at anti-aircraft defenses. The Facebook update said falling debris hit southern Kherson province, damaging seven houses and a kindergarten.

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According to the Ukrainian statement, Russia is still concentrating on offensive operations in Ukraine’s industrial east, focusing on the attacks on Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Marinka and Shakhtarsk in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk province.

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Regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said one person was killed and three wounded when 11 towns and villages in the province were shelled on Friday.

Further west, Russian rockets hit a residential area overnight in the city of Zaporizhzhia, the regional capital of the partially occupied province of the same name. No injuries were reported, but houses were damaged, said Anatoliy Kurtev of the Zaporizhzhia City Council.

British military officials said Saturday that Russia is likely to expand conscription to replenish its troops fighting in Ukraine. In its latest intelligence update, the British Ministry of Defense said deputies in the Russian Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, tabled a bill to change the draft age for men to 21-30, from the current 18-27.

The ministry said that currently many men aged 18-21 are applying for exemption from military service because they are enrolled in higher education institutions. The change would mean they would eventually still have to serve. It said the law would likely be passed and come into force in January 2024.

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