International Criminal Court Issues War Crimes Arrest Warrant for Vladimir Putin Over Alleged Scheme to Deport Ukrainian Children

International Criminal Court Issues War Crimes Arrest Warrant for Vladimir Putin Over Alleged Scheme to Deport Ukrainian Children

A warrant of arrest was issued on Friday for Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, two Russian officials accused of deporting Ukrainian children to Russia.

The court said there “are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Putin bears individual criminal responsibility” for the alleged crimes, for having committed them directly alongside others, and for “his failure to exercise control properly over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts.”

Since Moscow started its unjustified attack on Ukraine last year, the ICC charges against Moscow officials are the first to be legally brought against them.

The Kremlin called the ICC’s decision “outrageous and unacceptable.”

“We consider the very posing of the question outrageous and unacceptable.  Russia, like several states, does not recognize the jurisdiction of this court and, accordingly, any decisions of this kind are null and void for the Russian Federation from the point of view of the law,” tweeted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

According to official Ukrainian statistics, hundreds of Ukrainian children vanished after Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

A trial at the ICC is unlikely to take place.  Like the US, Ukraine, and China, Russia is not a party to the ICC.  Any Russian officials indicted would have to be either handed over by Moscow or captured outside Russia because the court does not hold trials in absentia.
On Monday, CNN reported that Kyiv has been pressing the ICC for arrest warrants against Russian nationals in connection with the Ukraine war for some time.
Russia claims to have taken many of Ukraine’s missing children and has made adoption by Russian families a centerpiece of its propaganda.
A report released by the Russian Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Lvova-Belova, claimed that around 600 children from Ukraine had been placed in orphanages in Kursk and Nizhny Novgorod and then sent to families in Moscow.
Moscow’s regional governor reported that 800 Ukrainian children from the eastern Donbas region live in the Moscow area as of mid-October.
Some children have ended up thousands of miles and several time zones away from Ukraine.
Among the 19 Russian regions where Ukrainian children now live in Novosibirsk, Omsk, Tyumen region in Siberia, and Murmansk in the Arctic.

“It’s great that the international community has appreciated the work to help the children of our country, that we do not leave them in the war zones, that we take them out, that we create good conditions for them, that we surround them with loving, caring people,” she said to reporters. “There were sanctions against all countries, even Japan, in relation to me, now there is an arrest warrant, I wonder what will happen next.  And we continue to work.”

On Friday, the Chief of Staff of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed his excitement about the arrest warrant issued for Putin.

“The world has received a signal that the Russian regime is criminal and that its leadership and accomplices will be brought to justice,” added Ukrainian General Prosecutor Andriy Kostin.

“This means that Putin must be arrested outside Russia and brought to trial.  And world leaders will think twice before shaking his hand or sitting down with him at the negotiating table.”

Human Rights Watch called the ICC decision a “wakeup call to others committing abuses or covering them up.”

“This is a big day for the many victims of crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine since 2014.  With these arrest warrants, the ICC has made Putin a wanted man and taken its first step to ending the impunity emboldened perpetrators in Russia’s war against Ukraine for far too long,” said Balkees Jarrah, the NGO’s Associate International Justice Director.

“The warrants send a clear message that giving orders to commit or tolerating serious crimes against civilians may lead to a prison cell in The Hague.  The court’s warrants are a wakeup call to others committing abuses or covering them up that their day in court may be coming, regardless of their rank or position,” Jarrah said.

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