The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin for the war crime of deporting children from Ukraine to Russia.
Pre-trial judges of The Hague-based International Criminal Court said the Russian president was “allegedly responsible” for the forced transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia during the two countries’ conflict, which has been documented by human rights groups.
The warrant and a second for Russia’s children’s commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova, also over the removal of children, are the first to be issued by the ICC over the Ukraine war.
Human rights groups have said thousands of children have been taken to Russia since Moscow’s full-scale invasion last year, while Ukraine on Friday said more than 16,000 such incidents were under investigation. The ICC did not specify the number of children unlawfully transferred.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes,” the ICC judges said in a statement on Friday.
The ICC’s prosecutor Karim Khan had opened an investigation into alleged war crimes by Russian forces in Ukraine soon after Moscow began its invasion last year. The warrant means Putin could be arrested if he travels to any country that is part of the ICC.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the arrest warrants as “a historic decision, from which historical responsibility will begin” for war crimes allegedly committed by Russia.
“Separating children from their families, depriving them of any opportunity to contact their relatives, hiding children on the territory of Russia, scattering them in remote regions — all this is an obvious state policy of Russia, state decisions and state evil,” Zelenskyy said.
Russia’s foreign ministry played down the impact of the warrants. “Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the ICC and has no obligations under it,” said the ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova. “Russia is not co-operating with this body, and possible arrest ‘recipes’, issued by the ICC, are legally null and void for us.”
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev echoed her remarks, writing on Twitter that there was “no need to explain WHERE this paper should be used” and adding a toilet paper emoji.
Russia has denied its troops have conducted war crimes or atrocities against civilians during the conflict. Instead, Moscow has accused Kyiv…
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