The International Criminal Court Issues an Arrest Warrant for Putin

Pavel Bednyakov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

The International Criminal Court has issued a warrant for the arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The BBC reported Friday morning that the court had charged Putin with war crimes, which include deporting children from Ukraine to Russia. The court says it has reason to believe that Putin was directly involved in the deportations and may have worked with others. It alleges that Putin failed to stop others from committing the unlawful deportations. The ICC also is calling for Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova to be apprehended. The BBC is reporting that Lvova-Belova claims that she adopted a 15-year-old boy from Mariupol and that she thanked Putin for his assistance in the matter.

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Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin called the decision a historic one for Ukraine and international law. The country’s presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak said that the warrant was “only the beginning.” Jonathan Leader Maynard, a lecturer in international politics at King’s College London, told the BBC that the court has been investigating Putin for potential war crimes since March of last year and that the evidence against Putin was strong enough that the ICC could not have avoided issuing the warrants.

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Russia on the other hand is not too concerned. Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry said, “The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view.” And she is right. The ICC only has jurisdiction in nations that have signed the agreement. Russia did not sign the agreement. So Putin and Lvova-Belova will not face charges unless they leave Russia. Zakharova added, “Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and bears no obligations under it.” Some in the international community consider it an important symbolic step, even though the warrants will likely keep the pair from traveling outside of Russia. Russia has also repeatedly denied that it has participated in any war crimes or atrocities during the conflict with Ukraine.

Fox News notes that the task of the ICC, which is based out of The Hague and has been in operation since 2002, is to prosecute those who have perpetrated things such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. The court is often used as a last resort when governments cannot or will not prosecute people accused of atrocities. The ICC has sent 42 investigators, which include forensic experts and support personnel, to probe the situation.

The United States is not a signatory of the ICC and does not assist it or acknowledge its authority.

 

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