Friday’s arrest warrant was issued by the International Criminal Court for Russian President Vladimir Putin. He is accused of war crimes in Ukraine.
The court stated in a news release that Putin was guilty of the “war crime” by overseeing the illegal abduction and deportation children from Ukraine to Russia.
“There are reasonable grounds for believing that Putin bears individual criminal liability for the aforementioned offenses,” said the court, which is based in The Hague (Netherlands).
The report stated that Putin failed to exercise proper control over his civilian and military subordinates, who had committed the acts or allowed them to be done, and were therefore under his effective control and authority.
The ICC also stated that Maria Alekseyevna Lvova–Belova, Putin’s presidential commissioner for children’s rights, was also alleged to be guilty of similar crimes.
Although warrants are sometimes issued secretly “to protect victims, witnesses and to safeguard the investigation,” the release stated that the court was aware that the conduct in question is ongoing and that public awareness may help to prevent the commission of further crimes.
Since the beginning of the invasion in February last year, Kyiv accused Russia of forcing children and adults to be transferred.
Russian officials denied the allegations, calling them “fantasy” and a plot to discredit Russia. Russia’s Embassy to the United States stated last month that it had taken in children fleeing the fighting.
This warrant for Putin is issued just days after an inquiry by the U.N. cited Russian aggressions against civilians in Ukraine. These included systematic torture and murder in occupied areas, as well as other potential issues that could be considered war crimes or crimes against humanity.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba praised the ICC decision and tweeted that the “wheels are turning” and that “international criminals would be held responsible for stealing children.
Ukraine is not a member court but has granted the ICC jurisdiction to its territory. Karim Khan, the ICC prosecutor, has visited the country four times since opening the investigation a year ago.
The U.S. doesn’t recognize the court’s jurisdiction, and Moscow officially withdrew their signature from the founding statutes of the ICC in Nov 2016, a day following publication of a report describing its annexation Crimea as an occupational.
According to the Associated Press, Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for Foreign Ministry, stated that arrest warrants “have no significance for our country, even from a legal standpoint.”
She also stated that Russia is not a signatory to the Rome Statute. This treaty forms the foundation of the international permanent war crimes tribunal.
This is breaking news. Keep checking back for more updates.
Associated Press contributed.