March 26, 2023

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International Criminal Court judges issue an arrest warrant for Putin for war crimes in Ukraine

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The International Criminal Court on Friday issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of being responsible for the war crime of illegal deportation of children from Ukraine.

Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations that its forces committed atrocities during its year-long invasion of its neighbour.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on her Telegram channel that the ICC arrest warrants “have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view.”

She added that Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute, which is the treaty on which the world’s permanent war crimes court is based.

The International Criminal Court, in its first notice against Ukraine, called for the arrest of Putin on suspicion of illegal deportation of children and illegal transfer of people from the territory of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.

The Kremlin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this week, Reuters reported that the court was expected to issue arrest warrants.

Separately, the court issued an arrest warrant for Maria Lvova Belova, Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, on the same charges.

Russia has not hidden a program under which it has brought thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia, but it is presenting it as a humanitarian campaign to protect orphans and abandoned children in the conflict zone.

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, opened an investigation into possible war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Ukraine a year ago. During four trips to Ukraine, he highlighted that he was looking into alleged crimes against children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure.

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The International Criminal Court said in a statement that Putin is accused of the war crime of illegal deportation from the occupied regions of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.

“The crimes are alleged to have been committed in the occupied Ukrainian territories at least as of February 24, 2022. There are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes.”

(Reporting by Bart Meagher). Editing by Gareth Jones and Frank Jack Daniel

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