Ukraine war: ICC issues arrest warrant for Putin

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The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes in Ukraine.

The ICC issued the warrant on suspicion of the unlawful deportation of children and unlawful transfer of people from the territory of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.

The court also issued a warrant for Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, on the same charges.

Putin is only the third serving president to have been issued an ICC arrest warrant, after Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.

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, provoking a furious response in Moscow.

In the first reaction from Moscow, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russia was not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia found the very questions raised by the ICC “outrageous and unacceptable”, and that any decisions of the court were “null and void” with respect to Russia.

Senior Ukrainian officials applauded the ICC decision, with the country’s Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin hailing it as “historic for Ukraine and the entire international law system”.

Andriy Yermak, chief of the presidential staff, said issuing the warrant was “only the beginning”.

Also Read: Putin accuses the West of nuclear blackmail

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan began investigating possible war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Ukraine a year ago.

He highlighted during trips to Ukraine that he was looking at alleged crimes against children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure.

The news came ahead of a planned state visit to Moscow next week by Chinese President Xi Jinping which is likely to cement much closer ties between Russia and China just as relations between Moscow and the West hit new lows.

Russia has not concealed a programme under which it has brought thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia, but presents it as a humanitarian campaign to protect orphans and children abandoned in the conflict zone.

Russian forces have been repeatedly accused of abuses during Russia’s year-old invasion of its neighbour Ukraine, including by a U.N.-mandated investigative body that this week described soldiers making children watch loved ones being raped.

Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations that its forces have committed atrocities during the invasion, which it calls a special military operation.

 

Zainab Sa’id

Source Reuters

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