Could Vladimir Putin end his days behind bars?
The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the president of Russia on Friday, citing the alleged trafficking of Ukrainian children into Russia amid the latter’s invasion of Ukraine.
The court accused Putin of the “war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation” in a statement announcing the charge.
Another Russian official — the country’s commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova — is also charged with the same crimes.
“There are 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,” the ICC said of the Russian officials.
ICC President Piotr Hofmański accused the Russian authorities of deporting children from Ukraine during the war — in defiance of Geneva Convention protections accorded to minors.
“The judges have reviewed the information and evidence submitted by the prosecutor and determined that there are credible allegations against these persons for the alleged crimes,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry rejected the standing of the ICC.
“Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and bears no obligations under it,” Maria Zakharova said of the development, according to The New York Times.
Russia withdrew its recognition of the court, based in The Hague in the Netherlands, in 2016.
A U.S State Department organization has accused Russia of forcibly “adopting” more than 6,000 Ukrainian children since the onset of the war, according to CNBC.
Critics of the invasion have described the policy as an attempt to re-engineer the demographics of parts of Ukraine in Russia’s favor.
European Union official Josep Borrell Fontelles said on Twitter that the EU supports the ICC’s move against Putin.
“The decision of the [ICC] 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,” he said. “There can be #noimpunity.”
The decision of the @IntlCrimCourt 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 & support ICC’s work.
There can be #noimpunity
— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) March 17, 2023
The ICC is dependent on the law enforcement of sovereign nations to enforce its own rulings, including arrest warrants.
Putin took responsibility for the invasion of Ukraine — an act Russia framed as a “special military operation” — in a speech preceding the conflict.