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International Criminal Court issues arrest warrant for Putin over alleged war crimes

The International Criminal Court in The Hague has issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin.

The formal cause for the warrant is Putin’s alleged complicity in the illegal deportations of children from Ukraine’s occupied territories to Russia. According to the ICC statement, there are “reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Putin bears individual criminal responsibility” for what constitutes a war crime under the international law.

The court also issued an arrest warrant against Russian Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova for her alleged role in the same crimes.

On March 14, the Kremlin’s press secretary told journalists that Russian “doesn’t recognize” the International Criminal Court.

Maria Zakharova, the official spokesperson for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, was among the first Russian officials to comment in the ICC’s decision, calling the arrest warrant “meaningless” and noting that Russia isn’t party to the Rome Statute, which established the court’s jurisdiction. “Russia does not cooperate with this body,” Zakharova said.

The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the ICC’s decision “outrageous and unacceptable”:

Russia, as a number of other countries, doesn’t recognize this court’s jurisdiction, and accordingly, any decisions of this sort are negligible for Russia, from a legal point of view.

Peskov declined to comment on how the arrest warrant might affect Putin’s ability to travel to countries within the ICC’s jurisdiction.

In Ukraine, President Zelensky’s Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak said that the arrest warrant “is just the beginning.” According to Yermak, 16,000 cases of illegal child deportation from Ukraine to Russia have been recorded in the course of the war, but the real number of cases might be even greater.

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