Russia-Ukraine War: ICC issues arrest warrant for Putin over alleged war crimes

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and one of his commissioners over alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

“Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “the Court”) issued warrants of arrest for two individuals in the context of the situation in Ukraine: Mr Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and Ms Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova,” the ICC said in a statement on Friday.

The court accused the duo of being responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of children and unlawful transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.

The crimes, the court said, were allegedly committed in Ukrainian-occupied territory at least from 24 February 2022.

It noted that it has reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin is responsible for having committed the acts directly or jointly with others and/or through others.

“There are reasonable grounds to believe that Ms Lvova-Belova bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes, for having committed the acts directly, jointly with others and/or through others,” the court said about Mr Putin’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights.

The allegations were considered by Pre-Trial Chamber II based on the prosecution’s applications of 22 February 2023 and the arrest warrant issued.

“The Chamber considered that the warrants are secret in order to protect victims and witnesses and also to safeguard the investigation,” the statement said.

However, noting that the allegations are ongoing and that public awareness of the warrants may contribute to the prevention of further commission of crimes, the Chamber considered that it is in the interests of justice to publicly disclose the existence of the warrants, the name of the suspects, the crimes for which the warrants are issued, and the modes of liability as established by the Chamber.

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Russia is expected to ignore the ICC directive as the country was never a full member of the international court.

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Although Russia signed the Rome statute, which governs the ICC, in 2000, it never ratified the agreement to become a member. In 2016, Mr Putin withdrew Russia from the process of joining the ICC.

Russia on 24 February 2022 launched a “military operation” against Ukraine with claims of de-nazifying the latter.

Since the war broke out, not less than 8,000 people, mostly Ukrainians, have been killed and millions displaced.

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