Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that all territories annexed by Russia would inevitably be retaken and that it was "only a matter of time". This comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Crimea on the ninth anniversary of the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula, in a surprise gesture after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him on war crimes charges.

The announcement also coincides with Ukraine's assertion that it has been hit by a barrage of Russian explosive drones, some of which have reached the western Lviv region for the first time in months.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry – in a statement – to mark 9 years since the referendum held by Russia unilaterally to annex Crimea to its territory.

It stated that Moscow's referendums on Ukrainian territory in 2014 and 2022 did not yield any results administratively, and that the Armed Forces of Ukraine liberated most of the areas where the referendums were held last year.

Russia has taken control of about 15% of Ukraine's territory as part of the war it has been waging against the country since February 2022.

Crimea Tourism

On the other hand, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Crimea on Saturday, on the ninth anniversary of the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula.

The visit is the first of its kind since the start of Russia's war on Ukraine, which has led to tough international sanctions on Russia, added to those imposed mainly over the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Putin arrived in Sevastopol, the main port of Russia's Black Sea Fleet on the peninsula, where he attended the inauguration ceremony of an art school for children accompanied by the local governor.

Sevastopol is about 240 kilometers from Kherson in southern Ukraine, which Kiev's forces recaptured in November after Russian troops withdrew, making Putin's first visit to a location so close to the front line.

The Russian president's last visit to Crimea dates back to November 2021, and Russia annexed the peninsula on March 18, 2014, following a referendum that neither Kiev nor the international community recognized.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed in January that he planned to reclaim Crimea "our land" with weapons, while Moscow says that "Crimea is Russian," refusing to be negotiated in possible peace talks.

Shelling by marches

On the ground, the Wall Street Journal quoted Ukrainian intelligence officials as saying that Russia is increasingly turning to using drones to launch attacks due to its low stockpile of cruise missiles.

The Ukrainian General Staff also announced that its forces had repelled more than 100 Russian attacks in one day on the fronts of Bakhmut, Liman, Avdievka, Marinka and Shakhtar in the east of the country.

In the province of Zaporizhia, Vladimir Rogov, a member of Russia's military and civilian administration in the province, said dozens of foreign militants and mercenaries were killed in a Russian strike on a makeshift shelter for foreign mercenaries in the city center.

Rogoff revealed that among the dead in the Russian attack were mercenaries from Britain, Poland and the United States, and foreign military trainers and experts, as the complex was considered one of the most important bases of elite forces.

The Ukrainian military administration also said that Russian forces targeted the city at dawn Saturday with S-300 missiles, and damaged one of the residential complexes.

In Bakhmut in the east of the country, Ukrainian border guards released images they said were of their forces shelling Russian troop positions in the city. Drone video footage shows shelling of a house on the outskirts of Bakhmut, where a group of Russian troops is stationed.

The Russian Ministry of Defense also published a video clip that it said was of an attack carried out by a Russian suicide drone of the type "Lancet", targeting a missile system of the Ukrainian army stationed in a field in the axis of Afdiivka, and the clip shows the explosion that occurred in the missile system as a result of the strike carried out by the drone.