The International Criminal Court on Friday issued an arrest warrant for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia for war crimes. The likelihood of a trial, while Putin remains in power, appears slim because the court cannot try defendants in absentia.
The court said that Putin bore individual criminal responsibility for the abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children. It said in a statement that Putin “is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of the population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation”.
“The crimes were allegedly committed in Ukrainian occupied territory at least from 24 February 2022,” the court statement said, citing the month that Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The ICC does not recognise immunity for heads of state in cases involving war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide.
The Kremlin has denied accusations of war crimes but has not been secretive about the transfers of Ukrainian children to Russia, depicting them as adoptions of abandoned children and promoting the program as a patriotic and humanitarian effort.
The court also issued a warrant on Friday for the arrest of Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, the Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, on similar allegations.
Meaningless: Russia
Russia said on Friday that the warrant against Putin was meaningless. “The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on her Telegram channel. “Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and bears no obligations under it.”
New York Times News Service and Reuters

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