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ICC issues arrest warrant for Putin over war crimes in Ukraine

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Russian President Vladimir Putin (Credit: Kremlin)

The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his children’s rights commissioner in connection with the alleged kidnapping of thousands of Ukrainian children.

In a statement, the court in The Hague said Putin is alleged to have committed the war crimes of unlawful deportation of children and the unlawful transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.

“There are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes, (i) for having committed the acts directly, jointly with others and/or through others … and (ii) for his failure to exercise control properly over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts, or allowed for their commission,” the court said.

The court also issued an arrest warrant for Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, for the same alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

Russia has been accused of numerous war crimes, including the abduction of thousands of Ukrainian children who were forcibly adopted in Russia. Some of those children later appeared at government events. Russia has denied allegations of war crimes.

“It is forbidden by international law for occupying powers to transfer civilians from the territory they live in to other territories,” ICC President Piotr Hofmański said. “Children enjoy special protection under the Geneva Convention.”

Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, said Friday’s court decision was “meaningless” as Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

“Russia does not cooperate with this body, and possible ‘warrants’ for arrest coming from the International Criminal Court will be legally null and void for us,” Zakharova said in a statement.

ICC President Piotr Hofmański recognized the difficulty of enforcing the arrest warrants. “As a court of law, the judges issued arrest warrants. The execution depends on international cooperation,” he said.

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