Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian President’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova. They are suspected of illegal deportation of Ukrainian children.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky called this decision historic.

“We have a fundamental decision of international justice. In a case which has a true prospect. The International Criminal Court issued a warrant of arrest for Putin. The historic decision, from which historical responsibility will begin. The head of the terrorist state and another Russian official have officially become suspects in a war crime. The deportation of Ukrainian children – the illegal transfer of thousands of our children to the territory of the terrorist state,” the President said.

Sanction - Putin

He stressed that separating children from their families, depriving them of any opportunity to contact their relatives, hiding children in the territory of Russia, throwing them in remote regions – all this “is an obvious state policy of Russia, state decisions and state evil.”

“I am grateful to the team of Prosecutor Karim Khan and the International Criminal Court, everyone in the world who is helping us in the fight for justice. I am grateful for integrity and willingness to really bring to justice those who are guilty,” Zelensky noted.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba also welcomed the ICC’s decision.

“Wheels of Justice are turning: I applaud the ICC decision to issue arrest warrants for Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova over forcible transfer of Ukrainian children. International criminals will be held accountable for stealing children and other international crimes,” the minister wrote.

World reaction

In its official comment, the White House welcomed the prosecution of those who committed war crimes, although the US is not a party to the Rome Statute.

“There is no doubt that Russia is committing war crimes and atrocities in Ukraine, and we have been clear that those responsible must be held accountable. The ICC Prosecutor is an independent actor and makes his own prosecutorial decisions based on the evidence before him. We support accountability for perpetrators of war crimes,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said.

British Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab stressed that his country would assist the International Criminal Court in its investigations to hold those guilty of war crimes in Ukraine to account.

German Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann also welcomed the decision of the International Criminal Court.

“The one who, like Putin, ignited a bloody war, must answer for it in court. The best solution would be if the indictment is submitted to the International Criminal Court. The issued arrest warrant for war crimes is an important signal of determination,” Buschmann said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France said that the decision of the International Criminal Court “will be a landmark”: “No one responsible for the crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine, regardless of their status, must escape justice.”

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell called the ICC’s decision the beginning of the process of bringing those responsible for crimes in Ukraine to justice.

“We appreciate and support ICC’s work. There can be no impunity,” Borrell said.

Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the arrest warrant for Putin “null and void” and noted that the Russian Federation did not recognise the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

Bohdan Marusyak

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