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Russia Launches Fresh Wave Of Drone Strikes In Ukraine After ICC Issues Arrest Warrant For Putin

By RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service March 18, 2023

Ukraine said Russia launched drone strikes in several areas of the country overnight after the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced it had issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for alleged war crimes.

The Ukrainian Air Force said Russia launched 16 attack drones early on March 18 and that 11 had been shot down by Ukrainian air-defense systems in the central, western and eastern regions. Among areas targeted were the capital, Kyiv, and the western Lviv region.

Serhiy Popko, the head of Kyiv's military administration, said Ukrainian air defenses shot down all drones heading for the Ukrainian capital, while Maksym Kozytskiy, the governor of the Lviv region, said six drones had targeted that area and three had been shot down.

In the southeastern Dnipropetrovsk region, a drone struck what was described as a "critical infrastructure facility, sparking a blaze.

Farther west, Russian rockets hit a residential area overnight in the city of Zaporizhzhya, the regional capital of the partially occupied province of the same name.

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.

In its regular update on March 18, the Ukrainian military also said Russian forces over the previous 24 hours had launched 34 air strikes, one missile strike, and 57 rounds of anti-aircraft fire.

According to the Ukrainian statement, Russia is continuing to concentrate its efforts on offensive operations in Ukraine's industrial east, focusing attacks on Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiyivka, Maryinka, and Shakhtarsk in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region.

Elsewhere, three senior U.S. security officials held a video call with a group of their Ukrainian counterparts on March 18 to discuss military aid to Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's chief of staff said.

"We discussed the further provision of necessary assistance to our country, in particular vehicles, weapons, and ammunition," Andriy Yermak wrote on Telegram.

He added that Zelenskiy had joined the meeting at the end to give his views on freeing Ukrainian territory occupied by invading Russian forces.

The ICC on March 17 said it had issued an arrest warrant for Putin for war crimes, accusing him of personal responsibility for the abductions of children from Ukraine, together with Russia's commissioner for children's rights, Maria Lvova-Belova.

U.S. President Joe Biden said the ICC move was "justified," telling reporters in Washington that Putin had "clearly committed war crimes."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia found the questions raised by the ICC "outrageous and unacceptable" and noted that Russia, like many other countries, does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC.

In Ukraine, Zelenskiy called it a "historic decision from which historic responsibility will begin."

The deportation of Ukrainian children "means the illegal transfer of thousands of our children to the territory of a terrorist state," Zelenskiy said, adding this could not have taken place without an order from Putin.

"Separating children from their families, depriving them of any opportunity to contact their relatives, hiding children on the territory of Russia, scattering them in remote regions -- all this is an obvious state policy of Russia, state decisions, and state evil, which begins precisely with the first official of this state," Zelenskiy said in his nightly address to the nation.

With reporting by Reuters and AP

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-drone-strikes-ukraine- icc-arrest-warrant-putin/32324159.html

Copyright (c) 2023. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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