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International Criminal Court issues arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over invasion of Ukraine

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of being responsible for war crimes committed in Ukraine, according to a press release put out by the court on March 17.

Putin will effectively be barred from the 123 countries that have recognized the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, and will be arrested should he attempt to cross any of their borders.

Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations of atrocities during its one-year invasion of its neighbor.

The allegations against Putin read as follows:

“Mr Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, born on 7 October 1952, President of the Russian Federation, is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation (under articles 8(2)(a)(vii) and 8(2)(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute).
The crimes were allegedly committed in Ukrainian occupied territory at least from 24 February 2022. There are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes, (i) for having committed the acts directly, jointly with others and/or through others (article 25(3)(a) of the Rome Statute), and (ii) for his failure to exercise control properly over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts, or allowed for their commission, and who were under his effective authority and control, pursuant to superior responsibility (article 28(b) of the Rome Statute).”

In addition to Putin, a warrant was also issued for the arrest of Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia's Commissioner for Children’s Rights. According to the ICC, they are responsible for the illegal deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia during the war:

“...each suspect bears responsibility for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population and that of unlawful transfer of population from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, in prejudice of Ukrainian children.”

The Court has evidence of Putin's direct involvement in these crimes. According to the prosecution, Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova personally committed the crimes. Putin is also responsible for not taking all necessary and reasonable measures to prevent the criminal actions of his subordinates.

Currently, the prosecution has sufficient evidence to charge Putin and Lvova-Belova with the illegal transfer of Ukrainian children from the occupied territories, but the list of charges may expand when more evidence is gathered.

The International Criminal Court has 123 member states, including countries from the EU, Latin America, and Africa. However, among its participants, there are also friendly and neutral countries for Russia, such as Kazakhstan, Brazil, Serbia, Mexico, and even Afghanistan. Former Soviet states Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have also shown interest in the agreement.

But Russia's largest partners, China and India, are not among the list of participants. Nevertheless, Putin has sharply reduced his international activity in the past year and only traveled to countries of the former USSR, as well as China and Iran.

Earlier this year, the European Parliament adopted a resolution demanding the creation of a special tribunal for the trial of Vladimir Putin, as well as Russia's political and military leadership, “for the crime of aggression against Ukraine.”

“Parliament strongly believes that the establishment of a special tribunal would send a very clear signal to both Russian society and the international community that President Putin and the Russian leadership at large can be convicted for the crime of aggression in Ukraine. MEPs point out that it is no longer feasible for the Russian Federation under Putin’s leadership to return to business as usual with the west,” read a press release issued following the adoption of the resolution.

MEPs expect that the tribunal will be created in close cooperation with Ukraine and the international community.

The MEPs also stressed that the tribunal “must have jurisdiction to investigate not only Vladimir Putin and the political and military leadership of Russia, but also Aliaksandr Lukashenka and his cronies in Belarus.”

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