ICC arrest warrant: What does it mean to Russian President Putin?

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin and the presidential commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova for alleged war crimes, including abducting children from war-hit Ukraine. 

«That’s right,» ICC prosecutor Karim Khan told AFP when asked if Putin would be liable for arrest if he set foot in any of those 123 nations.

Russia is not a member of the ICC, however, it was able to file charges against Putin because Ukraine has accepted its jurisdiction over the current situation, although Kyiv too is not a member.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia «does not recognize the jurisdiction of this court and so from a legal point of view, the decisions of this court are void».

Russia in fact signed the court’s founding Rome Statute but did not ratify it to become a member, and then withdrew its signature on Putin’s orders in 2016, after the ICC launched a probe into the 2008 war in Georgia, as per AFP reports. 

Putin was unlikely to end up in the dock for war crimes «unless there is a regime change in Russia», said Cecily Rose, assistant professor of public international law at Leiden University.

The ICC said that its pre-trial chamber found there were “reasonable grounds to believe that each suspect bears responsibility for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population and that of unlawful transfer of population from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, in prejudice of Ukrainian children.»

The court statement said that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility» for the child abductions “for having committed the acts directly, jointly with others and/or through others (and) for his failure to exercise control properly over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts.»

An UN-backed inquiry also cited Russian attacks against civilians in Ukraine, including systematic torture and killing in occupied regions, as war crimes and crimes against humanity. The investigation found that crimes were committed against Ukrainians on Russian territory, including deported Ukrainian children prevented from reuniting with their families.


(With AFP inputs)

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