The ICC have issued arrest warrants for Vladimir Putin over war crimes committed concerning the illegal deportation of children from Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been issued an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, with a focus on the unlawful deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia. This crime is one of 11 that constitute grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and that are applicable only to international armed conflict.
A panel of judges, deciding to make the warrants public, agreed that there were “reasonable grounds” to believe both Putin and Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova (Russian children’s rights commissioner) had individual criminal responsibility for the “unlawful deportation” of Ukrainian children. Other war crimes accusations may follow suit given the wealth of evidence being collected by an array of entities.
Lvova-Belova had previously complained that some of the children removed from the city of Mariupol “spoke badly about [Putin], said awful things and sang the Ukrainian anthem.” She has adopted a 15-year-old boy from Mariupol, telling Putin on television, “Thanks to you, now I know what it’s like to be a mom of a Donbas child.”
Moscow has declared the warrants “outrageous.” The foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, stated on Telegram that “The decisions of the international criminal court have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view. Russia is not a party to the Rome statute of the international criminal court and bears no obligations under it.”
Last month, the Yale Humanitarian Research Lab published a report alleging that at least 6,000 children from Ukraine had been sent to Russian “re-education” camps in the past year, though the Ukrainian government think the number is well over 16,000. ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, stated on Friday that “Incidents identified by my office include the deportation of at least hundreds of children taken from orphanages and children’s care homes.”
Russia has made no secret of the fact that they have re-homed children, and adopted them out to families after rushing through their Russian citizenship, even using these children for propaganda purposes:
“My office alleges that these acts, amongst others, demonstrate an intention to permanently remove these children from their own country,” Khan said. “We must ensure that those responsible for alleged crimes are held accountable and that children are returned to their families and communities.… We cannot allow children to be treated as if they are the spoils of war.” He added, “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.”
Though the ICC has no power of arrest itself, member countries that fall within its jurisdiction (of which Russia is not one) are responsible for the arrest of suspects. The ICC “relies on cooperation with countries worldwide for support, particularly for making arrests, transferring arrested persons to the ICC detention center in The Hague, freezing suspects’ assets, and enforcing sentences.”
There are 123 member states that are party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. This means that Putin would be unable to set foot in all the countries indicated in green in the image below, and arguably in others, too.
While some might think it unlikely that Putin will end up in court, this was also thought of Slobodan Milosevic, concerning his activities in the Bosnian conflict. Even so, Putin’s future political travails will be rendered far more difficult with a warrant hanging over him. It also makes it more of a challenge for shills and supporters of the Kremlin to continue their facade of adopting the moral high ground.