The International Criminal Court on Friday issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of being responsible for the war crime of illegal deportation of children from Ukraine.
Reuters reports that Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations that its forces have committed atrocities during its one-year invasion of its neighbour and the Kremlin branded the court decision as “null and void” with respect to Russia.
Neither Russia not Ukraine are members of the ICC, but Kyiv granted it jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed on its territory.
The tribunal, with 123 member states, has no police force of its own and relies on member countries to detain and transfer suspects to The Hague for trial.
While it is unlikely that Putin will end up in court any time soon, the warrant means that he could be arrested and sent to The Hague if travelling to any ICC member states.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia found the very questions raised by the ICC “outrageous and unacceptable.”
Asked if Putin now feared travelling to countries that recognised the ICC, Peskov said, “I have nothing to add on this subject. That’s all we want to say.”
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on her Telegram channel that the arrest warrants had “no meaning for our country” as it is not a party to the Rome Statute, the treaty underpinning the world’s permanent war crimes tribunal.
In its first warrant for Ukraine, the ICC called for Putin’s arrest on suspicion of unlawful deportation of children and unlawful transfer of people from the territory of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.
“The crimes were allegedly committed in Ukrainian occupied territory at least from February 24, 2022. There are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes,” it said.
Putin is the third serving president to be the target of an ICC arrest warrant, after Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.
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