- The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s Commissioner for the Rights of the Child, Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, on war crimes charges related to the illegal deportation of children from occupied areas in Ukraine.
- The ICC claims that hundreds of Ukrainian children were taken from orphanages to Russia, with many given up for adoption.
- Russia dismissed the arrest warrants as “senseless” and does not recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on Friday issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s Commissioner for the Rights of the Child, Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, on war crimes charges related to the illegal deportation of children from occupied areas in Ukraine.
The ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II found the two defendants responsible for the war crime of illegally deporting and transferring children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, according to an ICC statement.
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, which marked its first anniversary on February 24, Russia has been accused by NGOs, Kiev, and even a United Nations investigation of abducting children from Ukrainian regions seized by the Russian army and taking them to “re-education” centers in Russia. The Kremlin has admitted to sending young Ukrainians to Russia, claiming they are orphans.
ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan said hundreds of Ukrainian children had been taken from orphanages to Russia. “Many of these children, we allege, have already been given up for adoption in the Russian Federation,” he said.
In response to the ICC’s decision, Russia dismissed the arrest warrants as “senseless.” Russian diplomatic spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, “The decisions of the International Criminal Court are meaningless for our country, including from a legal point of view.”
Former Russian President and current Security Advisor Dmitry Medvedev mocked the decision on Twitter, hinting that the arrest warrant was better suited as toilet paper.
The Ukrainian government, on the other hand, celebrated the ICC’s decision. Presidential Chief of Staff Andrii Yermak said, “It’s just the beginning.” Ukraine’s General Prosecutor Andriy Kostin called the measure “historic for Ukraine and the entire system of international law.” EU diplomacy chief Josep Borrell said the arrest warrant “is just the beginning on the road to holding Russia accountable for crimes and atrocities in Ukraine.”
Russia does not recognize the ICC and had already warned before the warrants were issued that it does not acknowledge the court’s jurisdiction.
Uriã Fancelli, an expert in international relations, explained that the arrest warrant has symbolic value, but practical enforcement would require Putin to be in a country that is a signatory to the ICC agreement.
The ICC also issued an arrest warrant for Lvova-Belova on the same charges as Putin. In response, Lvova-Belova said she found it “great that the ICC recognizes my work to help the children of this country (Ukraine).”
Pre-Trial Chamber II noted that arrest warrants are usually kept secret but were made public in this case to raise awareness of the ongoing crimes.
As the war in Ukraine enters its second year, Moscow has threatened to expand its territorial control and hinted at a possible partnership with China.
Meanwhile, Kiev has relied on the support of Western countries, receiving weapons and military equipment to help push back Russian troops, who currently control around 20% of Ukraine’s territory in the east.
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