On Friday, March 17, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes stemming from his alleged involvement in kidnappings of Ukrainian children.
In a historically significant move, the court declared in a statement that Putin “is allegedly responsible for the war crime of (children’s) unlawful deportation from (occupied) areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation and that of (children’s) unlawful transfer to the Russian Federation.”
On Friday, it also issued a warrant for the arrest of Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, the Russian Federation’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, on related charges.
Even though the court has previously indicted world leaders, this was the first time it had issued a warrant against one of the U.N. Security Council’s five permanent members.
Moscow immediately rejected the plan, but Ukraine embraced it.
Piotr Hofmanski, the president of the court, said in a video statement that although the ICC’s judges issued the warrants, it would be up to the rest of the world to make sure they were carried out. There is no internal police force within the court to carry out warrants.
He claimed that the ICC was carrying out its responsibility as a court of law. “Arrest warrants were issued by the judges. International cooperation is necessary for the execution.
Though Moscow does not acknowledge the court’s jurisdiction, it is unlikely that any Russians will be tried at the ICC.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, stated that Russia does not recognize the ICC and finds its rulings to be “legally void.” Russia views the court’s action as “outrageous and unacceptable,” he continued.
When asked if Putin would avoid traveling to nations where he might be detained pursuant to the ICC’s arrest warrant, Peskov declined to comment.
The news of the arrest warrant was welcomed by Olga Lopatkina, a Ukrainian mother who fought for months to get her foster children back after they were sent to a facility run by Russian loyalists. She exclaimed, “Good news!” to AP. “Everyone should be held accountable for their crimes,”
The world changed, wrote Mykhailo Podolyak, a presidential adviser for Ukraine, on Twitter.
The “wheels of justice are turning,” according to foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba, who also said that “international criminals will be held accountable for stealing children and other international crimes.”
“Reasonable grounds to believe that each suspect bears responsibility for the war crime of unlawful population deportation and unlawful population transfer from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, in prejudice of Ukrainian children,” the International Criminal Court (ICC) stated in a statement following the findings of its pre-trial chamber.
According to the court statement, “there are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Putin bears individual criminal responsibility” for the kidnappings “for having committed the acts directly, jointly with others and/or through others (and) for his failure to exercise proper control over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts”.
ICC prosecutor Khan reported visiting a children’s residential facility in southern Ukraine two kilometers (just over a mile) from the front lines during his most recent visit, which took place in early March.
“The drawings pinned to the wall… alluded to an earlier context of love and support. As a result of the alleged deportation of children from Ukraine to the Russian Federation or their wrongful transfer to other areas of the temporarily occupied territories, this home was empty, he claimed in a statement. “As I stated to the UN Security Council in September, my Office is prioritizing the investigation of these alleged acts. Children cannot be used as war’s spoils.