International Criminal Court issues arrest warrant for Putin over alleged Ukraine war crimes

Vladimir Putin at a military parade in Saint Petersburg, Russia

The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant Friday for Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of being responsible for war crimes in Ukraine.

Putin committed the “war crime” of overseeing the unlawful abduction and deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia, the court said in a news release.

“There are reasonable grounds to believe that Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes,” the court, based in The Hague, Netherlands, said its pre-trial judges had assessed.

It added that Putin had failed to “exercise control properly over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts, or allowed for their commission, and who were under his effective authority and control.”

Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, Putin’s presidential commissioner for children’s rights, is also alleged to have committed similar crimes, the ICC said.

Karim Khan, who serves as chief prosecutor of the ICC, said in a statement that the evidence indicates that Putin and Lvova-Belova “bear criminal responsibility” for the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. “We must ensure that those responsible for alleged crimes are held accountable and that children are returned to their families and communities,” he said.

Putin’s press secretary Dmitriy Peskov rejected the findings of the international court, “We do not recognize this court, we do not recognize the jurisdiction of this court. This is how we treat this,” he said in a Telegram post.

Vladimir Putin at a military parade in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on July 25, 2021.Mikhail Svetlov / Getty Images file

While warrants are often issued in secret “to protect victims and witnesses and also to safeguard the investigation,” the release said that the court was “mindful that the conduct addressed in the present situation is allegedly ongoing, and that the public awareness of the warrants may contribute to the prevention of the further commission of crimes.”

From the early days of the invasion last February, Kyiv has accused Russia of forcibly transferring children and adults.

Russian officials have consistently denied the accusations, calling them a “fantasy” aimed at discrediting Russia. Russia’s embassy to the United States said last month that the country had taken in children who were forced to flee the fighting.

The warrant for Putin comes a day after a U.N.-backed inquiry cited Russian attacks against civilians in Ukraine, including…

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