The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has issued a warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of being responsible for war crimes in Ukraine, which was attacked by Moscow in February last year. The charges also include unlawful deportation of children for which the court has issued an arrest warrant against Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Russian President’s office. The Kremlin has denied the allegations and said the arrest warrant was legally “void” since Moscow does not recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction.
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The United Nations, meanwhile, believes that there is sufficient evidence to accuse Mr Putin of war crimes in Ukraine.
The ICC says the crimes were committed in Ukraine from February 24, 2022.
What are the allegations against Mr Putin?
according to the ICC statementthe Russian President “is allegedly responsible for the war crime of illegal deportation of children and that of illegal transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia”.
If further said that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that Mr Putin “committed the acts directly, jointly with others and failed to “exercise control properly over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts”.
Citing a report of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry the BBC said in a report that some of these children were forced to take Russian citizenship and placed in foster families due to which they ended up “remaining permanently” in Russia.
If further said that the transfers were meant to be temporary but both parents and children faced “an array of obstacles in establishing contact”. There are 16,221 children who were forcibly taken to Russia, according to the UN investigators.
These acts have violated international humanitarian law and amount to war crimes, they added.
Ms Lvova-Belova is a co-accused in the crime.
What other war crimes has Russia reportedly committed?
The UN panel of investigators said apart from rape and torture, Russians are also responsible for attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, said the BBC,
It also highlights the mass burial sites – in Bucha and Izium (in Kharkiv) – accusing Russia of more serious “crimes against humanity”.
There are also allegations from Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky of Russian committing 400 war crimes in the Kherson region alone.
How are war crimes prosecuted?
The Human Rights Watch said that the ICC prosecutes the most serious crimes that are of concern to the international community, such as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
However, the International Criminal Court has no powers to arrest suspects and Russia is not a signatory to the treaty which set up the court (the Rome Statute), which makes extradition of any suspects almost impossible.
How will the arrest warrant impact Mr Putin?
The Russian President enjoys unchallenged power in his homeland, so there is no prospect of the Kremlin handing him over to the ICC. Till the time he is in Russia, Mr Putin faces no risk of being arrested.
However, Mr Putin could be detained if he leaves Russia, so he might have to restrict his travel. But, due to the international sanctions against him over the Ukraine war, it is unlikely that he would show up in a country that would want to put him on trial.