The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin was accused of war crimes and the illegal deportation of children from Ukraine.
The ICC also issued an arrest warrant for Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, the Russian commissioner for children’s rights.
The ICC said it sees reasonable grounds to believe that Putin bears individual responsibility for the crimes either by committing them directly, jointly with others and/or through others.
The arrest warrant obliges member states to arrest Putin or Lvova-Belova if they were to travel to their country.
It marks the first problem for Putin as if he travels, he risks arrest.
The ICC's Statement
The statement reads; "The crimes were allegedly committed in Ukrainian-occupied territory at least from 24 February 2022.
"There are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes."
What is the ICC?
The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established in 2002 to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and the crime of aggression.
It is based in The Hague, Netherlands.
It prosecutes crimes committed by nationals of member states or on the territory of member states by other actors.
It has 123 member countries.
What is Russia's response?
Russia, which denies committing atrocities since it invaded Ukraine, rejected the ICC’s move.
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said; “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."
How did Ukraine react?
On the heels of the ICC statements, Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the ICC’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Putin.
Zelensky said; “This is a historic decision which will lead to historic accountability.
"The head of the terrorist state and another official have officially become suspects in a war crimes case.
"To part children from their families, to prevent them from contacting their relatives, to hide children on the territory of Russia, to disseminate them around far-flung regions is clearly state policy of Russia, state decisions and state evil, which starts precisely with the top official of this state."
Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin also applauded the ICC and said; “The world received a signal that the Russian regime is criminal and its leadership and henchmen will be held accountable.
“This is a historic decision for Ukraine and the entire system of international law.”
US President Biden's statement
The United States President, Joe Biden, also backed the ICC’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin.
Biden said the Russian president had clearly committed war crimes.
“Well, I think it’s justified. But the question is, it’s not recognised internationally by us either.
"But I think it makes a very strong point.”
European Union's position
Josep Borrell, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission said; "The decision of the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin for the war crime of unlawful deportation and transfer of children from Ukraine to Russia is the start of the process of accountability.
"We appreciate and support ICC’s work. There can be no impunity."
Russia invaded Ukraine last year on February 24, 2022.
Many have died and millions have been displaced from their homes.
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