ICC issues arrest warrant for war crimes against Putin
THE HAGUE – The International Criminal Court on Friday issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on war crime charges of unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children.
The Hague-based ICC said it had also issued an arrest warrant for Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights to the President, on similar charges.
The Kremlin dismissed the orders as “void”. Russia is not a party to the International Criminal Court, so it was unclear if or how Putin could ever be extradited.
War-torn Ukraine welcomed the ICC’s announcement, with the country’s chief prosecutor saying the “historic” arrest warrant for Putin was “just the beginning”.
The court’s shock announcement came hours after other news items with the potential to significantly affect Russia’s war in Ukraine, including a visit to Moscow by Chinese leader Xi Jinping and more fighter jets for Kiev’s armed forces.
According to Kiev, more than 16,000 Ukrainian children have been deported to Russia since the February 24, 2022 invasion, many of whom are said to have been placed in institutions and foster homes.
The warrants, issued at the request of ICC prosecutor Karim Khan, concerned “the alleged war crimes of deporting children from Ukrainian-occupied territories to the Russian Federation” since the invasion, he said.
ICC President Piotr Hofmanski added: “The execution (of the arrest warrants) depends on international cooperation”.
– ‘Spoils of war’ –
At a meeting with Putin in mid-February, Lvova-Belova said she adopted a 15-year-old child from the devastated Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.
“Now I know what it means to be a mother of a child from Donbass – it’s a difficult job, but we love each other, that’s for sure,” she told Putin.
She added, “We evacuated children’s homes to safe areas, arranged rehabilitation and prosthetics for them, and provided them with targeted humanitarian assistance.”
The arrest warrant for Putin — a sitting head of state from a UN Security Council member — is an unprecedented move for the International Criminal Court.
Established in 2002, the ICC is a court of last resort for the world’s worst crimes, when countries are unable or unwilling to prosecute suspects.
Prosecutor Khan launched an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine just days after the Russian invasion.
Khan said earlier this month after a visit to Ukraine, during which he posted a picture of himself next to empty cots in an empty children’s home, that investigations into alleged child abduction were a priority.
“Children must not be treated as spoils of war,” he said in the March 7 statement.
Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin, who met Khan during his visit, welcomed the decision.
“The world has received a signal that the Russian regime is criminal and its leadership and henchmen will be held accountable,” Kostin said on social media.
But Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissed the ICC’s arrest warrants.
“The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, even from a legal point of view,” Zakharova said on social media.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev added on Twitter that the ICC “has issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin. No need to explain WHERE this paper is going to be used,” adding a toilet paper emoji.
Earlier in the day, Beijing and Moscow announced that Chinese leader and strategic ally Xi would be in Russia next week to sign deals that usher in a new era of relations.
The United States has accused China of plotting arms shipments in support of the Russian campaign – allegations Beijing has firmly denied.
– ‘Future Crimes’ –
The arrest warrants come a day after UN investigators said Russia’s forced rendition and deportation of Ukrainian children to areas under its control constituted a war crime, UN investigators said on Thursday.
Investigators said parents and children spoke of teens being informed by Russian social services that they would be placed in foster care or adopted.
ICC President Hofmanski said the Geneva Convention prohibited the occupying powers from transferring civilians.
The contents of the arrest warrants are being kept secret “to protect the victims,” he said.
“Nevertheless, the judges of the chamber dealing with this case decided to make public the existence of the arrest warrants in the interest of justice and to prevent the commission of future crimes,”
The court said in a separate statement there was “reasonable reason to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility”.
Putin was allegedly responsible both directly for committing the crimes and for “failing to adequately exercise control over civilian and military subordinates,” it said.
Neither Russia nor Ukraine are members of the International Criminal Court, but Kiev has accepted the court’s jurisdiction and is cooperating with Khan’s office.
Russia denies allegations of war crimes by its troops. Experts say it’s unlikely any suspects will ever be handed over.
As fighting rages on in Ukraine, Kiev welcomed Friday’s news that Slovakia will donate 13 MiG-29 fighter jets.
Ukraine has a long history of requesting fighter jets from Western allies, though it is primarily seeking modern US-made F-16s.
Source: Crypto News Deutsch