Putin rejected a video call and went to Crimea on the ninth anniversary of his accession | news today
President Vladimir Putin with Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhayev listening to Tikhon Shevkunov (right), Chairman of the Crimean Patriarchal Council of Culture, while visiting the Chersonesos Taurica Archaeological and Historical Park on the ninth anniversary of the status referendum State of Crimea and Sevastopol and their reunification with Russia.
Photo: AFP – HANDOUT
Russian President Vladimir Putin made a surprise visit to Crimea today on the ninth anniversary of the annexation of the peninsula, which Moscow is fortifying with forced marches fearing that the fighting in eastern and southern Ukraine will spread to that territory, which Kiev intends to recapture.
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The Kremlin kept the president’s trip a secret until the last moment and even played distraction: the spokesman for the Russian Presidency, Dmitri Peskov, announced that today Putin only planned to participate by videoconference in the inauguration of a cultural center.
The Russian president visited the Korsun Art School and Children’s Center in Chersonese, outside the port of Sevastopol, the main base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. According to the governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhaev, everything was ready for the videoconference but finally the president arrived in person.
“By car. He himself was behind the wheel. On this historic day the president is always with Sebastopol and the people of Sebastopol. Our country has an incredible leader,” the governor wrote on his Telegram channel.
CRIMEA IS FORTIFIED
This Thursday the leader of Crimea, Sergei Axiónov, affirmed that after the fortification works that are carried out on the peninsula, Ukraine will not be able to take over its territory.
“They (Ukrainians) understand that they have no chance to take Crimea after the measures that are carried out by order of the president (Putin),” Axiónov said in statements to local television.
The Crimean leader stressed that the inhabitants of the peninsula understand the need to carry out these works and do not complain about the inconvenience that they may entail.
“Of course we cannot give details. The only thing I can say is that the president’s orders will be carried out and that the Crimeans can be sure that the peninsula has a reliable defense,” the Izvestia newspaper said in an interview on the occasion of the anniversary of the annexation.
Axionov expressed confidence that the fortifications will not be necessary, but added: “Prevention is better than cure.”
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THE BLACK SEA FLEET ALSO TAKES PRECAUTIONS
The Russian Black Sea Fleet apparently held the same opinion, which on Friday carried out mine-laying exercises along the Crimean coast.
According to a Fleet statement, the ship “Ingushetia” planted training mines, without explosive charge, in the “routes of possible actions of the enemy forces in the vicinity of the coast of the Crimean peninsula.”
In addition to the “Ingushetia” four other ships of the Black Sea Fleet participated. On land, in eastern Ukraine, the fighting does not lose intensity.
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RUSSIAN TROOPS ATTACK NEXT TO DONETSK
As reported today by the Ukrainian military command, Russian troops are trying to encircle Avdiivka and Mariinka, satellite cities of Donetsk, the capital of the self-proclaimed people’s republic of the same name.
“Last day the enemy tried to attack (Ukrainian) positions in the Avdiivka and Mariinka area, but without any success. Yesterday it lost about two companies of troops, between dead and wounded,” military spokesman Oleksiy Dmytrashkovsky said on the Ukrainian national television marathon.
He stressed that the main objective of the Russian forces at the moment is to encircle Avdiivka, which is located just 5 kilometers from the northern suburbs of Donetsk.
The head of the Ukrainian military administration of the Donetsk region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, stated that the levels of destruction in the area near the front line are “incredible”.
“If we talk about Avdiivka, the city is almost completely destroyed. Our Bakhmut fortress-city is more than 80 percent destroyed,” he added.
According to Kyrylenko, given the impossibility of capturing the cities close to the front line, the Russian forces employ the “scorched earth” tactic and use all kinds of weapons to destroy all the infrastructures.
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