VLADIMIR Putin has been spotted in public for the first time since an arrest warrant was issued for him for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
The Russian President made an appearance in the disputed Ukrainian territory of Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Putin‘s forces in 2014.
It comes as Putin faces war crimes charges from the International Criminal Court[/caption]
In the short clip published on the Russian social media network VK, Putin, 70, can be seen walking stiffly with his head bowed.
He was shown opening an art school and a children’s centre in the port city of Sevastopol.
It is part of celebrations held by Russia to mark the ninth anniversary of the annexation of Crimea, a Ukrainian territory which was illegally seized in 2014.
The region, home to around 2.4 million people, was invaded by Russia in the wake of a revolution which saw the pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, forced from power.
Russia initially claimed that its army wasn’t involved and that the fighting was carried out by Crimean self-defence forces.
However, Putin later admitted that Russian troops had been deployed to the peninsula, a move condemned by the international community and illegal under international law.
As a result, Russia was kicked out of the G8 group of countries and hit with sanctions.
The governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhaev, celebrated the visit on his Telegram channel.
He wrote: “Our president Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin knows how to surprise. In a good way.
“Today we were supposed to open a children’s art school in Khersones. Everything was ready for a video conference and a report to the president via special communications.
“And Vladimir Vladimirovich took it and came. Himself. Driving. Because in such a historic day, the president is always with Sevastopol and the people of Sevastopol. Our country has an incredible leader.”
It marks Putin’s first public appearance since the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague indicted Putin and his crony on war crimes charges.
The International Criminal Court on Friday accused the Russian tyrant of the “unlawful deportation” of children from Ukraine – a war crime under the Geneva Convention.
Alongside Putin, officials at the ICC charged his children’s commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, of orchestrating the alleged kidnapping of thousands of children.
Video filmed in February shows Putin and Lvova-Belova casually discussing how she brought back a child from Ukraine.
Putin is seen approving Lvova-Belova’s personal adoption of the boy from Mariupol, a city in southern Ukraine flattened by the Russian invasion last year.
The clip, filmed almost one month ago, seems to prove the allegations made by Kyiv that the Kremlin has approved the mass deportation of children from captured Ukrainian lands – a war crime.
In the short video, Putin’s children’s commissioner tells tyrant Vlad that she was only able to adopt the child – a boy named by Russian media as Filip – because of him.
At least 6,000 children from Ukraine have allegedly been sent to Russian “re-education” camps in that time, according to a report released last month by the Yale Humanitarian Research Lab.
But Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has put the number of deported children as high as 16,000, as he called the warrants “a historic decision which will lead to historic accountability”.
Last year, The Sun investigated the thousands of Ukrainian children being forced to become Russian.
Grandma Tatyana Tolstokorova from Mariupol told The Sun how she believed her granddaughter had been taken to Russia after she failed to find her remains in the ruins of the apartment she lived in.
The Kremlin responded immediately to the ICC announcement, defiantly claiming that the court in the Netherlands had no power over Russia.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on her Telegram channel: “The decisions of the international criminal court have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view.
“Russia is not a party to the Rome statute of the international criminal court and bears no obligations under it.”
The ICC accuses Putin of illegally transporting Ukrainian children to Russia[/caption]
Also indicted is Putin’s children’s commissioner Maria Lvova-Balova[/caption]