RUSSIA: The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, with Hague prosecutors accusing the President of being accountable for war crimes committed in Ukraine.
In a statement, the court said that Putin “is allegedly responsible for the war crimes of unlawful deportation of the population (children) and unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”
It says that the crimes were committed in Ukraine starting on February 24, 2022, when Russia began its full-scale invasion. Moscow has refuted the allegations, labelling the warrants “outrageous.”
The announcement came as the White House expressed concern about China’s efforts to be a peacemaker before President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Moscow on Monday to meet with Putin. The White House said that a ceasefire at this point in the war would be like “ratifying Russian conquest.”
It is extremely unlikely that the move will have a significant impact, as the ICC has no authority to detain suspects and can only exercise jurisdiction within the countries that are members of it, and Russia is not one of those countries.
However, the move could affect President Putin in other ways, like making him unable to travel abroad.
In a statement, the ICC said that it had good reasons to think that Putin and others were responsible for the crimes. He was also accused of not using the power he had as president to stop the deportation of children.
When questioned about the ICC move, Joe Biden, the US president, said, “Well, I think it’s justified.”
“But I think it makes a very strong point. Putin committed war crimes,” he continued, noting that the United States is not signed up to the ICC.
Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, is also wanted by the ICC for similar offenses.
She has spoken out before about how some people try to change the minds of Ukrainian children who are taken to Russia. In September of last year, Lvova-Belova expressed her displeasure over some kids who had been taken from Mariupol because they “spoke badly about the [Russian President], said awful things, and sang the Ukrainian anthem.”
Additionally, she has stated that she adopted a boy, 15, from Mariupol.
The ICC said that at first, it thought about keeping the arrest warrants secret, but in the end, it decided to make them public if that would stop more crimes from being done.
Children “cannot be treated as the spoils of war; they cannot be deported,” said Karim Khan, the ICC’s prosecutor, adding that “This type of crime doesn’t need one to be a lawyer; one needs to be a human being to know how egregious it is.”
As soon as the move was announced, people started talking about the arrest warrants, and Kremlin officials quickly dismissed them.
The spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that the court’s decisions were “null and void.” Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president, said that the warrant was like toilet paper. “No need to explain WHERE this paper should be used,” he tweeted with a toilet paper emoji.
However, leaders of the Russian opposition hailed the announcement. It was a “symbolic step” but an important one, said Ivan Zhdanov, a close friend of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the president of Ukraine, said that he was thankful to Khan and the criminal court for charging “state evil.”
Andriy Kostin, the prosecutor general of Ukraine, called the decision “important for Ukraine,” while Andriy Yermak, the president’s chief of staff, lauded it as “only the beginning.”
There is, however, a very slim possibility that Vladimir Putin or Maria Lvova-Belova will show up in The Hague’s dock because Russia is not a signatory to the ICC.
The ICC depends on governments’ cooperation to arrest suspects, and Russia is “obviously not going to cooperate in this respect,” a lecturer in international politics at King’s College London, Jonathan Leader Maynard, said.
On the other hand, Khan emphasized that nobody anticipated that Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian president who went on trial for war crimes in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo, would wind up in The Hague.
“Those that feel that you can commit a crime in the daytime and sleep well at night should perhaps look at history,” he stated. Legally, however, this does pose Putin with a problem.
Putin is the leader of a G20 country and is about to meet China’s President Xi Jinping in a historic handshake. However, he is now a wanted man, which will limit the countries he can visit.
It’s also embarrassing for the Kremlin, which has always denied accusations that the Russian government committed war crimes, that a powerful international body like the ICC doesn’t believe its denials.
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