The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has taken an unprecedented step by issuing an arrest warrant for the Russian President Vladimir Putin, on suspicion of war crimes committed in Ukraine. This move marks the first arrest warrant issued by the ICC in an investigation into the conflict in Ukraine.
Russia Reacts with Outrage
The Kremlin has responded to the arrest warrant with outrage, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov calling the questions raised by the ICC "outrageous and unacceptable". When asked if Putin now feared travelling to countries that recognized the ICC, Peskov had no further comment.
Making Putin a Pariah
Stephen Rapp, the former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues under former President Barack Obama, stated that the arrest warrant "makes Putin a pariah" and that "if he travels he risks arrest".
Rapp also highlighted that Russia cannot relieve itself from sanctions without compliance with the warrant.
Allegations of Deportation of Children
The arrest warrant for Putin is based on suspicion of illegal deportation of children and illegal transfer of people from the territory of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.
The ICC Chief Prosecutor, Karim Khan, stated in a statement on Friday that "hundreds of Ukrainian children have been taken from orphanages and children’s homes to Russia" and that "many of these children, we allege, have since been given up for adoption in the Russian Federation".
The alleged acts demonstrate an intention to permanently remove these children from their own country and at the time of the deportations, the Ukrainian children were protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Arrest Warrant for Russia's Commissioner for Children's Rights
In addition to Putin, the ICC has also issued an arrest warrant for Maria Alekseevna Lvova-Belova, Russia's Commissioner for Children's Rights, on the same charges.
Ukraine's top prosecutor, Andriy Kostin, hailed the ICC's move as a "historic decision for Ukraine and the entire international law system".
Russia Regards Attacks on Putin as Aggression Against the Country
Despite the ICC's move, Russia remains defiant, with Parliament Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, a close ally of Putin, writing on Telegram "Yankees, hands off Putin!" and stating that the move was evidence of Western "hysteria".
Volodin further stated that "we regard any attacks on the President of the Russian Federation as aggression against our country".
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