Home/ News / World/  Putin faces arrest warrant for Ukraine war crimes, International Criminal Court says 'reasonable grounds to believe...'

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for alleged war crimes, including abducting children from Ukraine. 

The ICC accuses Putin of responsibility for the "unlawful deportation" and "unlawful transfer" of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia. The court also issued a warrant for Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, a Russian children's rights official, on similar charges. However, enforcement of the warrants depends on international cooperation, as the ICC has no police force of its own. 

The possibility of a trial at the ICC is remote as Russia does not recognise the court's jurisdiction and does not extradite its nationals. Although Ukraine is not a member of the ICC, it has granted the court jurisdiction over its territory, and the ICC prosecutor has visited four times since opening an investigation a year ago.

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

The court statement said that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility" for the child abductions “for having committed the acts directly, jointly with others and/or through others (and) for his failure to exercise control properly over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts." 

A UN-backed inquiry also cited Russian attacks against civilians in Ukraine, including systematic torture and killing in occupied regions, as war crimes and crimes against humanity. The investigation found that crimes were committed against Ukrainians on Russian territory, including deported Ukrainian children prevented from reuniting with their families.

How Russia responded to the charges?

Russia said on Friday that the arrest warrant was meaningless. "The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on her Telegram channel.

"Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and bears no obligations under it."

The Kremlin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Russia signed the Rome Statute in 2000, but never ratified it to become a member of the ICC, and finally withdrew its signature in 2016. At the time, Russia was under international pressure over its seizure and unilateral annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, as well as a campaign of air strikes in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad's war against rebels.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Updated: 17 Mar 2023, 09:56 PM IST
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