Arrest warrant issued against Putin by International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of suspected involvement in atrocities committed since the invasion, including the unlawful deportation of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.
In a statement, the Hague-based court said the alleged war crimes were committed at least from 24 February 2022, when Putin launched the so-called special military operation in the neighbouring nation.
The ICC says “there are reasonable grounds” to believe that the Russian leader committed the unlawful acts directly and working with others, adding he even failed to exercise control properly over subordinates who deported the children.
Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, is also wanted by the court over similar allegations.
Nevertheless, despite the warrants, the ICC cannot arrest suspects and can only exercise jurisdiction within countries that are signed up to its agreement. Putin as well as Lvova-Belova are unlikely to be extradited as Russia is not a signatory to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and therefore, bears no obligations under it.
Still, the two could experience travel restrictions as other ICC signatory countries could assist with the arrests.
Both Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin and Russian opposition leaders hailed the move. While Kostin called it a “historic decision”, adding it gave a clear signal that the “Russian regime is criminal”, jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s close ally Ivan Zhdanov tweeted “wow!”.
Russia has repeatedly denied committing war crimes in Ukraine since the invasion in February last year. It rejected the court’s decision as null and void.