ICC Issues Arrest Warrant For Putin Over Alleged Ukraine War Crimes – The Moscow Times

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over the “unlawful deportation” of Ukrainian children during Moscow’s invasion of its neighbor.

The Hague-based court also issued an arrest warrant for Russian presidential children’s rights commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova on similar charges.

Both Putin and Lvova-Belova “bear individual criminal responsibility” for facilitating the forced transfer of children from Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia since the start of the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the court said in a press release published on its website. 

“There are reasonable grounds to believe that each suspect bears responsibility for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population and that of unlawful transfer of population from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, in prejudice of Ukrainian children,” the statement said. 

Russia is not a member of the ICC, and it was unclear how the ICC planned to enforce the warrant.

The Kyiv government believes that as many as 16,221 Ukrainian children have been deported to Russia as of last month.

The ICC’s announcement comes one day after a UN investigation determined that Russia’s forced transfer and deportation of Ukrainian children to areas under its control amounted to a war crime.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said shortly after the announcement that the court’s decision has “no meaning” for Russia.

“Russia doesn’t cooperate with this body and all the possible recipes for an arrest … will be legally null and void for us,” Zakharova said at a press briefing.

“Russia is not a member of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and bears no obligations under it,” she added. 

The ICC is a court of last resort for crimes that countries cannot or will not prosecute, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan launched an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine just days after Russia’s invasion.

The arrest warrant against Putin marks only the second time in history that the ICC has indicted a sitting head of state, with the first such instance being the then-leader of Sudan Omar al-Bashir in 2009. 

Russia denies allegations of war crimes by its troops. Experts have said it is unlikely it would ever hand over any suspects.

AFP contributed reporting.

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