President Joe Biden said Friday the International Criminal Court’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin was “justified” as the country continued to launch widespread attacks in Ukraine.
The ICC issued the arrest warrant Friday for Putin and Russia’s presidential commissioner for children’s rights, accusing them of war crimes and being involved in the unlawful deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia. The move means if Putin sets foot in any of the court’s 123 member states, that state is obligated to arrest him. The U.S. is not one of the member states that recognize the ICC.
“I think it’s justified,” Biden said in reference to the warrant, according to Reuters and The Hill. He noted the warrant isn’t recognized by the U.S., but Putin has “clearly committed war crimes,” Biden added.
Meanwhile, Russian forces launched 34 airstrikes, one missile strike and 57 rounds of anti-aircraft fire over 24 hours, Ukrainian military officials said Saturday morning.
- Falling debris in southern Kherson damaged seven houses and a kindergarten overnight Friday.
- One person was killed and three wounded when 11 towns and villages in the Donetsk province in eastern Ukraine were shelled Friday, Pavlo Kyrylenko, the province’s regional governor, said.
- Houses were damaged and a catering business was destroyed when Russian rockets hit a residential area in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia overnight Friday. No casualties were reported.
- Ukrainian air force officials said it shot down 11 out of 16 Russian drones Friday night amid attacks in central, western and eastern parts of the country.
- A grain deal meant to ease soaring global food prices was extended Saturday, according to Turkish state media. The United Nations humanitarian chief called for the extension Friday as the deal’s expiration approached. Russia’s U.N. ambassador said Moscow would extend the deal but only for 60 days. The deal allows Ukraine, one of the world’s key breadbaskets, to export grain from three of its Black Sea ports.
- The head of Russia’s Wagner private military group announced Saturday on Telegram that it plans to recruit about 30,000 new fighters by mid-May.
- British and German fighter jets on Friday intercepted a Russian aircraft flying near Estonian airspace, the U.K.’s Royal Air Force said. It is the second time they have intercepted a Russian aircraft off the Estonian coast.
Chinese president Xi Jinping to visit Russia
Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to fly to Moscow next week to meet with Putin in what appears to be a show of support for the Russian president. Xi’s visit is expected to span from Monday to Wednesday.
China has previously refused to condemn Russia for the war in Ukraine but has denounced Western sanctions on the country and accused NATO and the U.S. of provoking Putin.
The Biden administration has warned against China pushing for a one-sided peace deal between Russia and Ukraine.
Ukraine marks nine years since annexation of Crimea
On Saturday, Ukraine marked the ninth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea by vowing to regain all Ukrainian territories occupied by Moscow.
“For nine years in a row, the Crimean peninsula has been suffering under the criminal regime of the Kremlin, which has turned it into a military outpost, a zone of unfreedom and harassment, aggression and terror against everything and everyone who has found the courage to resist and defend their democratic rights and values,” Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement, according to CNN.
Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 in a move much of the world denounced as illegal.
Emine Dzheppar, first deputy minister of foreign affairs in Ukraine, said, “Our duty is to bring freedom back to peninsula,” in a Twitter statement.
International leaders, including in the U.K., Finland and Sweden, also decried the Black Sea peninsula’s annexation from Ukraine and reaffirmed support for the country. Meanwhile, Putin visited Crimea on Saturday to mark the anniversary.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Contact Christine Fernando at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.