International Criminal Court issues arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin for war crimes in Ukraine
The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant on Friday against Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of the war crime of illegal deportation of children from Ukraine, a move Moscow said was meaningless.
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 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 Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, 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 said on her Telegram channel: “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.