The International Criminal Court in The Hague has issued international arrest warrants for the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, as well as the Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova. They are accused of illegally deporting the population and children from the territory of Ukraine to Russia.
“Volodymyr Vladimirovich Putin, the President of the Russian Federation, is most likely responsible for the war crime of illegal deportation of the population (children) and illegal transfer of the population (children) from the occupied territories of Ukraine to the Russian Federation (according to Articles 8(2)(a) (vii) and 8(2)(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute),” the press service of the court said in a statement .
These are war crimes committed at least since February 24, 2022.
The court notice states that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the above-mentioned crimes” – due to direct participation, actions together with other people, or due to the inability to exercise proper control over civilian and military subordinates.
The grounds for issuing the warrant for the arrest of Maria Lvova-Belova, who has been the Russian Federation Commissioner for Children’s Rights since 2021, are approximately the same, with the exception of the clause about “inability to exercise proper control over military subordinates.”
Despite the existence of an arrest warrant for Putin and Lvova-Belova, the ICC does not have the authority to arrest suspects. Its jurisdiction extends only to countries that have signed the agreement establishing the court.
Russia is not a signatory to this agreement.
The spokeswoman of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, has already informed that the decision of the International Criminal Court is of no importance for Russia.
What does this mean for Ukraine?
“From now on, the Russian president has the official status of a suspect in the commission of an international crime – the illegal deportation and relocation of Ukrainian children,” Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin wrote on Facebook .
In his opinion, world leaders can now limit communication with Putin.
“The world received a signal that the Russian regime is criminal and its leadership and accomplices will be held accountable,” Kostin noted.
He called the decision of the International Criminal Court historic and thanked the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Karim Khan, who visited the places where war crimes were committed in Ukraine.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia: this is a “legally void” decision
According to her, Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and does not bear any obligations or cooperate with it.
“Possible arrest warrants issued by the International Court of Justice will be legally null and void for us,” she noted.
How many children did Russia deport from Ukraine?
According to Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin, the deportation of more than 16,000 children from Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv and Kherson regions has been recorded, but the real figure may be much higher.
“There is no doubt that this is a planned policy of the Russian Federation aimed at destroying Ukraine as a state and Ukrainians as a nation. By kidnapping our children, Russia is literally stealing our future,” Andriy Kostin notes.
According to him, Ukraine has already managed to return 308 children, but it is necessary to return all of them, and to convict all those involved in deportation, as well as other war crimes.
“We expect all states that consider themselves part of the civilized world to take appropriate steps to bring those suspected of committing international crimes to justice. Even if they are the top leaders of the Russian terrorist regime,” Kostin emphasized
On March 16, the UN Commission of Inquiry called Russia’s removal of Ukrainian children to its territory a war crime. Russian officials proudly talk about taking children from Ukraine and “re-educating” them in the spirit of love for Russia.
In the report of the commission, which has been working in Ukraine for several months, published on Thursday, it is emphasized that international humanitarian law prohibits – with some rare exceptions – the evacuation of children by a party to an armed conflict.
The head of the commission, Norwegian judge Erik Mese, told a press conference that he and his colleagues studied in detail the cases of 164 children aged four to 18, taken from Donetsk, Kharkiv and Kherson regions.
As the members of the commission write in the report, these children and their parents said that the Russian social services told the children that they would be given to Russian families, and the Ukrainian children “expressed serious fears” that they would be separated from their relatives forever.
Last year, the Russian commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, announced that she had adopted a child from Mariupol, a city bombed by the Russians, into her family, and later, in September, she said that children there were successfully taught to love Russia.
“When we brought them to the territory of the Moscow region so that they could recover a little, the story began that they spoke negatively about the president [Putin], said all sorts of abominations, sang the national anthem of Ukraine, “Glory to Ukraine” and so on,” Lvova-Belova told Hromadska chamber. – Therefore, yes, there is this kind of negativity, perhaps at the beginning, but then it turns into love for Russia.”