The ICC issues an arrest warrant against Putin for war crimes in Ukraine

The Hague (AP) – The International Criminal Court announced on Friday that it had issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on war crimes charges for his alleged involvement in kidnapping children from Ukraine.

The court said in a statement that Putin is “allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and unlawful transfer of population (children) from the occupied territories of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”

She also on Friday issued an arrest warrant for Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, the Commissioner for Children’s Rights at the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, on similar allegations.

The court’s president, Piotr Hofmanski, said in a video statement that while the ICC judges issued the warrants, it will be up to the international community to enforce them. The court does not have its own police force to enforce arrest warrants.

“The ICC does its job as a court,” he said. “The judges issued arrest warrants. Execution depends on international collaboration.”

A possible trial of Russians at the International Criminal Court is still a long way off as Moscow does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction – a position reiterated on Friday by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova in a first reaction to the arrest warrants.

“The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, even from a legal point of view,” she said.

But Ukrainian officials cheered.

“The world has changed,” said presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said “the wheel of justice is turning,” adding that “international criminals will be held accountable for child theft and other international crimes.”

Ukraine is also not a member of the court, but it has given the ICC jurisdiction over its territory, and ICC prosecutor Karim Khan has visited it four times since he launched an investigation a year ago.

The ICC said its pre-trial chamber had “found reasonable grounds to believe that each suspect bears responsibility for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population and unlawful transfer of population from the occupied territories of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, to the detriment of Ukrainian children. “

The court statement said there were “reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Putin bears individual criminal responsibility.” child abductions “for having committed the acts directly, in concert with and/or through others (and) for failing to exercise proper control over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts.

After his last visit in early March, ICC prosecutor Khan said he visited a children’s nursing home two kilometers (just over a mile) from the front lines in southern Ukraine.

“The drawings pinned to the wall … spoke of a context of love and support that was once there. But that home was empty, a result of the alleged deportation of children from Ukraine to the Russian Federation or their illegal transfer to other parts of the temporarily occupied territories,” he said in a statement. “As I stated to the United Nations Security Council last September, my office is investigating these alleged acts as a matter of priority. Children must not be treated as spoils of war.”

And while Russia dismissed the court’s allegations and arrest warrants as null and void, others said the ICC action will have an important impact.

“The ICC has made Putin a wanted man and taken its first step to end the impunity that has encouraged perpetrators in Russia’s war against Ukraine for far too long,” said Balkees Jarrah, deputy director of international justice at Human Rights Watch. “The arrest warrants send a clear message that issuing orders to commit or condone serious crimes against civilians can result in a jail cell in The Hague.”

Prof David Crane, who indicted Liberian President Charles Taylor for crimes in Sierra Leone 20 years ago, said dictators and tyrants around the world “are now informed that those who commit international crimes are also accountable to heads of state to be pulled.”

Taylor was eventually arrested and brought before a special court in the Netherlands. He was found guilty and sentenced to 50 years in prison.

“This is an important day for the judiciary and the citizens of Ukraine,” Crane said in a written comment to the Associated Press on Friday.

On Thursday, a UN-supported investigation cited Russian attacks on civilians in Ukraine, including systematic torture and killing in occupied territories, as potential problems constituting war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

The comprehensive investigation also revealed crimes committed against Ukrainians on Russian territory, including deported Ukrainian children prevented from being reunited with their families, a “filtration system” aimed at screening Ukrainians for detention, as well as Torture and inhuman prison conditions.

But on Friday, the ICC put Putin’s face on the child abduction allegations.


Casert reported from Brussels.

___ Follow AP’s coverage of the war at

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