Following an arrest warrant issued by The International Criminal Court (ICC) against Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Russia’s commissioner for children, Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, US President Joe Biden stated that Putin has “clearly committed war crimes” and justified the ICC’s decision to issue the warrant.
The ICC accused Putin of being responsible for the abduction of children from Ukraine. If either individual steps foot in any of the ICC’s 123 member states, authorities in those countries would be required to arrest and transfer them to The Hague.
However, Russia does not recognize the ICC and has found the court’s questions to be “outrageous and unacceptable.” The US has never ratified the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, and Russia withdrew from the treaty after the court criticized its annexation of Crimea in 2014.
In addition to the ICC arrest warrant, the US has separately concluded that Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine. A spokesperson for the State Department stated that “there is no doubt that Russia is committing war crimes and atrocities in Ukraine, and we have been clear that those responsible must be held accountable.
” Russia has rejected the ICC’s warrants, calling them “null and void” due to its lack of recognition of the court. However, Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, who was also subject to the arrest warrant, stated that it validated her work in “helping the children of our country.”
The allegations come as Russia prepares to celebrate the ninth anniversary of its 2014 annexation of Crimea. Putin is expected to participate in a “patriotic” rally at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium this weekend.
According to the court’s statement, Putin is “responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population [children] and that of unlawful transfer of population [children] from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.” The ICC’s pre-trial chamber found that there were “reasonable grounds to believe” that the two suspects are responsible for the alleged war crimes, and Putin “bears individual criminal responsibility.”
Russia has claimed that it brought thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia as part of a humanitarian campaign to protect abandoned children and orphans in conflict zones.
According to Sky News’ international affairs editor Dominic Waghorn, the likelihood of Putin going on trial is low despite the warrants issued against him. Waghorn noted that many individuals who have been indicted in the past have never faced trial. He added that unless Putin is toppled from power and handed over, it is unlikely he will face trial.
The number of children taken from Ukraine remains unclear, with different organisations offering different estimates. Waghorn cited a human rights group in the US that estimates 6,000 children have been deported to Russia, while Ukrainian authorities suggest the number is closer to 16,000. Meanwhile, the Russian government has claimed that since 2014, 700,000 children have been taken from Ukraine.
Andriy Yermak, chief of the Ukrainian presidential staff, stated that Ukraine has worked closely with the ICC and is currently investigating over 16,000 cases of forced child deportation to Russia. So far, Ukraine has managed to secure the return of 308 children.
During a press conference, the President of the ICC, Piotr Hofmanski, declared that the arrest warrants represent a significant moment in the pursuit of justice.
The judges assigned to the case had found credible evidence of the alleged crime against the accused persons.
The ICC Prosecutor, Karim Khan, had initiated an investigation one year ago into possible war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Ukraine.
He had indicated that he was also examining the targeting of civilian infrastructure and crimes against children, who have special protection under the Geneva Convention.
Ukraine, which is not a member of the court, has granted the ICC jurisdiction over its territory.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the decision, calling it historic and signalling the start of an unprecedented responsibility.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, the White House National Security Council, and Josep Borrell, the EU’s representative for foreign affairs and security policy, all praised the ICC warrant, noting the importance of holding those responsible for atrocities accountable.
Culled from Sky News
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