ICC issues arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin over ‘Ukraine war crimes’

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The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin for war crimes over his alleged involvement in the kidnapping of children from Ukraine.

The ICC says the Russian president is “allegedly responsible for the war crime of illegal deportation of the population (children) and illegal transfer of the population (children) from the occupied territories of Ukraine to the Russian Federation”.

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The ICC said the crimes were allegedly committed on territory occupied by Ukraine “at least” since the start of Russia’s invasion on 24 February last year.

“there are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Putin bears personal criminal responsibility for having committed the acts directly, jointly with others and/or through others, and the civilian and military For his failure to properly exercise control over subordinates, or permitted their commission, and who were under his effective authority and control, in accordance with superior responsibility,” the ICC said on Friday.


It also issued an arrest warrant for Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, on similar charges.

In his nightly address to the nation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called it a “historic decision, from which begins historical responsibility”.

But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Russia does not recognize the International Criminal Court and considers its decisions “legally invalid”.

He said Russia considers the court’s move to issue an arrest warrant against Mr Putin “outrageous and unacceptable”.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan said that hundreds of Ukrainian children have been taken from orphanages and children’s homes to Russia.

“Many of these children, we allege, have since been given up for adoption in the Russian Federation,” he said.

The president of the court, Piotr Hofmanski, said in a video statement that ICC judges have issued the warrants, but that it will be up to the international community to enforce them. The court has no police force of its own to enforce the warrants.

“The ICC is doing its job as a court of law. Judges issue arrest warrants. Execution depends on international cooperation,” he said.

Vladimir Putin

, SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images

Moscow has repeatedly rejected accusations of atrocities during a year-long invasion of its neighbor. Russia’s foreign ministry said the arrest warrant against Putin “has no significance”.

Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova 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 has no obligations under it.”

A possible trial of any Russians at the ICC is far away, but Ukraine’s president said the arrest warrant was “just the beginning” in his fight to restore justice over Russia’s invasion.

An aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said it was “a clear signal to the Russian elite about what will happen”.

“This is the beginning of the end of the Russian Federation in its present form on the world stage. It is a clear legal process.”

UK Foreign Secretary James Claverie tweeted: “Those responsible for the horrific war crimes in Ukraine must be brought to justice.

“We welcome the step taken by the independent ICC to hold those at the helm of the Russian regime, including Vladimir Putin. The work to investigate the atrocities committed must continue.

Ukraine is also not a member of the court, but has granted the ICC jurisdiction over its territory and ICC prosecutor Karim Khan has visited four times since launching the investigation a year ago.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Friday described the ICC’s issuance of an arrest warrant for Putin as an important decision for international justice.

Mr Borrell said the move was the beginning of “holding Russia accountable for its crimes and atrocities in Ukraine”.

“This is an important decision for international justice and for the people of Ukraine,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Maria Lvova-Belova

, SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images

The Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC found on February 22, 2023, based on the prosecution’s applications, that there are “reasonable grounds to believe” that Putin and Ms. Lvova-Belova bear “responsibility” for the war crime of illegal deportation of children do – and the illegal transfer of children from the occupied territories of Ukraine to the Russian Federation – at the prejudice of Ukrainian children.

The Chamber considered keeping the arrest warrant secret in order to protect the victims and witnesses and to safeguard the investigation.

But it decided that it was “in the interests of justice” to publicly name Putin and Ms Lvova-Belova, their alleged crimes and the methods of liability established by the chamber.

ICC issues arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin over ‘Ukraine war crimes’

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