ICC Issues Arrest Warrant for Putin on War Crimes Charges

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on suspicion of war crimes related to the illegal deportation of children from Ukraine. The warrant, issued on Friday, 17 March, calls for the arrest of both Putin and Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, the Russian commissioner for children’s rights, for their roles in the alleged war crimes of illegal transfers and deportations of children from occupied Ukrainian territories to Russia.

The move comes in response to reports last spring that Ukrainian children in occupied territory were being taken to Russia, and even being adopted by Russian families. Russia has presented its actions as a humanitarian mission to save Ukrainian children from the war, but Ukraine has accused Russia of genocide and described its actions as a war crime.[0]

In response to the warrants, the Kremlin said it did not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC.[1] Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, declared that any of the court's rulings regarding Russia were “null and void”.[1]

Putin’s visit to occupied Ukraine on Saturday, 19 February, came days after the ICC issued an arrest warrant.[2] He was flown into Mariupol by helicopter and toured districts around the city in a car.[3] During his visit, Putin took the time to inspect the shoreline of Mariupol, stopping at a yacht club and theatre.[4] Putin visited a family at their residence in the Nevsky district of Mariupol.[4]

The ICC declared that there is justification to believe that Putin has individual culpability for the offenses either through committing them personally, in collusion with others, and/or through other people.[5] A warrant for the apprehension of Maria Lvova-Belova, the Commissioner for Children's Rights in the office of President Putin, was also issued by the court concerning two similar accusations concerning the same time-frame.[2]

Member states are obligated to arrest either Putin or Lvova-Belova should either of them enter their respective country, according to the arrest warrant.[5] The International Criminal Court does not possess its own police department or any other means of making arrests.[5]

It is unlikely Putin will stand trial as Russia, like the US, does not recognize the authority of the ICC.[6]

0. “Putin’s alleged war crimes: who are the Ukrainian children being taken by Russia?” The Guardian, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/mar/17/vladimir-putin-war-crimes-icc-arrest-warrant-ukraine-children

1. “Putin arrest warrant issued over war crime allegations” BBC, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-64992727

2. “‘Not Enough': Ukrainians React To ICC Arrest Warrant, War Crimes Charges Against Putin For Illegal Deportations Of Ukrainian Children” Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.rferl.org/a/ukrainians-react-icc-arrest-warrant-putin/32324276.html

3. “Defiant Putin visits occupied Mariupol, symbol of Ukrainian resistance” CNN, 19 Mar. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/03/19/europe/putin-mariupol-visit-icc-intl-hnk/index.html

4. “Provocative Putin makes surprise trip to occupied Mariupol” POLITICO Europe, 19 Mar. 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/ukraine-war-vladimir-putin-russia-mariupol-trip/

5. “All you need to know about the ICC’s arrest warrant for Putin” Al Jazeera English, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/3/17/all-you-need-to-know-about-the-iccs-arrest-warrant-for-putin

6. “Putin visits occupied Ukraine, stopping in Crimea and Mariupol” Business Insider, 19 Mar. 2023, https://www.businessinsider.com/putin-visits-occupied-ukraine-stopping-in-crimea-and-mariupol-2023-3

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