ICC Issues Arrest Warrant For Putin Over Ukraine War Crimes
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied accusations that its forces have committed atrocities during Russia’s one-year-old invasion of its neighbour.
Putin is only the third serving president to have been issued an ICC arrest warrant, after Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.
While it is unlikely that Putin will end up in court any time soon, the warrant means that he could be arrested and sent to The Hague if travelling to any ICC member states.
The ICC issued the warrant for Putin on suspicion of the unlawful deportation of children and unlawful transfer of people from the territory of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.
The court also issued a warrant for Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, on the same charges.
Russia has not concealed a programme under which it has brought thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia but presents it as a humanitarian campaign to protect orphans and children abandoned in the conflict zone.
In the first reaction to the news from Moscow, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, via her Telegram channel, said: “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.”
Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Russia found the very questions raised by the ICC “outrageous and unacceptable”, and that any decisions of the court were “null and void” with respect to Russia.
Senior Ukrainian officials applauded the ICC decision, with the country’s Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin hailing it as “historic for Ukraine and the entire international law system”.
The chief of the presidential staff, Andriy Yermak, said issuing the warrant was “only the beginning”.
Ukraine’s Prosecutor, General Andriy Kostin, welcomed the move as “a historic decision for Ukraine and the entire international law system… But it is only the beginning of the long road to restore justice.”
According to Reuters, ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, opened an investigation into possible war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Ukraine a year ago.
He highlighted during four trips to Ukraine that he was looking at alleged crimes against children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure.
The ICC move came a day after a U.N.-mandated investigative body accused Russia of committing wide-ranging war crimes in Ukraine, including wilful killings and torture, in some cases making children watch loved ones being raped and detaining others alongside dead bodies.
The news also came ahead of a planned state visit to Moscow next week by Chinese President Xi Jinping which is likely to cement much closer ties between Russia and China just as relations between Moscow and the West hit new lows.
Russia has been placed under unprecedented Western sanctions since he sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
Beijing and Moscow struck a “no limits” partnership shortly before the invasion and U.S. and European leaders have said they are concerned Beijing may send arms to Russia.
China has denied any such plan, criticising Western weapon supplies to Ukraine, which will soon extend to fighter jets after Poland and Slovakia this week approved deliveries.
The Kremlin said the jets would simply be destroyed.
China is keen to deflect Western criticism over Ukraine, but its close ties to Russia and its refusal to label Moscow’s war as an invasion have fuelled skepticism about the prospect that Beijing might act as a mediator in the conflict.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said the United States had deep concerns that China might try to position itself as a peacemaker in the war by promoting a ceasefire.
But any ceasefire at this time would not lead to a just and lasting peace between Ukraine and Russia, Kirby told a news briefing.