File photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin | The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against Putin, accusing him of being responsible for war crimes committed in Ukraine. ( Image Source : PTI )
Russian leaders on Friday strongly criticised the International Criminal Court (ICC) for issuing an arrest warrant against their President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of being responsible for war crimes committed in Ukraine.
The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Putin on suspicion of unlawful deportation of minors and the unlawful movement of people from Ukrainian territory to the Russian Federation, news agency Reuters reported.
According to Reuters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow found the very questions raised by the ICC “outrageous and unacceptable”. He noted that Russia, like many other countries, does not recognise the jurisdiction of the ICC.
“And accordingly, any decisions of this kind are null and void for the Russian Federation from the point of view of law,” he stated.
He was asked if Putin feared travelling to countries that recognised the ICC and might try to arrest him, Peskov was quoted saying: “I have nothing to add on this subject. That’s all we want to say.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also shared similar views saying: “The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view. Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and bears no obligations under it.”
“Who would have thought 15 years ago that in the West taking care of children, saving them and helping them would become a criminal offence,” she added, as per Reuters.
Ria novosti news agency quoted Russian children’s commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova as saying: “It’s great that the international community has appreciated this work to help the children of our country: that we don’t leave them in war zones, that we take them out, that we create good conditions for them, that we surround them with loving, caring people.”
“All this is very strange. It seems to me that this is clear confirmation that when you have no other way to intimidate a country, you come up with something absolutely fantastic … Like little children, when they can do nothing else, they just show their fist from somewhere far away,” he added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hailed the decision as “historic”, saying it “will lead to historic accountability. The head of the terrorist state and another official have officially become suspects in a war crimes case.”
“In criminal cases that are being investigated by our law enforcement there are more than 16,000 instances of forcible deportation of Ukrainian children by occupiers. But the real, complete number of deported could be much larger. It would have been impossible to enact such a criminal operation without the say-so of the man at the helm of the terrorist state,” he remarked, as per Reuters.
“To part children from their families, to prevent them from contacting their relatives, to hide children on the territory of Russia, to disseminate them around far-flung regions is clearly state policy of Russia, state decisions and state evil, which starts precisely with the top official of this state,” Zelenskyy added.
Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also welcomed the ICC move saying, “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.”
Vladimir Milov, an aide of jailed Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny, called for Putin’s arrest saying: “Lock him up!”
Another ally of Navalny Leonid Volkov called it “a symbolic step.” “Yes, it’s a symbolic step. But what an important one! P.S. If you meet Putin, feel free to detain him and deliver him to the court!,” he remarked, as quoted by Reuters.
Earlier this week, Reuters reported that the court was set to issue warrants, the first in its inquiry into the Ukrainian conflict.
Besides Putin, the court issued arrest warrants for Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, on the same charges, the report added.
Putin “is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from seized territories of Ukraine to the Russian Federation,” the ICC said in a statement.
The ICC’s pre-trial chamber found “reasonable grounds to believe that 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”.
Moscow has constantly refuted charges of war crimes during its ongoing war with Ukraine.