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ICC Issues Arrest Warrant for Putin Over War Crime Allegations

On 17 March, 2023, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and another key Russian official, Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, the commissioner for children’s rights in Putin's presidential office.[0] The charges relate to the alleged unlawful deportation of Ukrainian children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia, and are the ICC’s first arrest warrants since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014.

The warrant obliges member states to arrest Putin or Lvova-Belova if they were to travel to their country, however, the ICC has no police force of its own or other ways to enforce arrests.[1] The Kremlin has said it does not recognize the jurisdiction of the court, meaning the accusations are “null and void.”[2] The Russian Federation is not part of the Rome Statute – the agreement which established the International Criminal Court – and it is highly unlikely that President Putin or Lvova-Belova would be surrendered for prosecution.[3]

The ICC accused Putin of a war crime for the deportation of hundreds of children from Ukraine, which the Kremlin has presented as a humanitarian mission to save Ukrainian children from the war.[2] However, Ukraine has accused Russia of genocide and described its actions as a war crime.[4]

Ukrainian authorities in Kyiv have repeatedly alleged that Russia has unlawfully removed or relocated children from Ukrainian land currently under Russian occupation. Russia has confessed to keeping a minimum of 1,400 Ukrainian minors who it terms as orphans, yet it stated that at least 2,000 had voyaged to Russia unaccompanied.[5] [4]

It has been documented that 16,221 children were deported by the Ukrainian side.[5] The Ukrainian Prosecutor-General's Office has officially noted that over 16,000 Ukrainian children have been forced to leave their homes in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, and Kherson regions due to Russian occupation. It has been reported that 308 Ukrainian children have been allowed to go back to Ukraine.[6]

Putin’s defiance of the ICC’s ruling has been further highlighted by his surprise visit to the Russian-occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Sunday.[7]

0. “ICC issues arrest warrant for Putin, March Madness gets crazy: 5 Things Podcast” USA TODAY, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2023/03/18/icc-issues-arrest-warrant-putin-march-madness-gets-crazy-5-things-podcast/11498320002/

1. “All you need to know about the ICC’s arrest warrant for Putin” Al Jazeera English, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/3/17/all-you-need-to-know-about-the-iccs-arrest-warrant-for-putin

2. “Putin visits occupied city of Mariupol” The Hill, 19 Mar. 2023, https://thehill.com/policy/international/3907242-putin-visits-occupied-city-of-mariupol

3. “Lithuania sends a clear message to Putin following ICC arrest warrant” TVP World, 18 Mar. 2023, https://tvpworld.com/68577053/lithuania-sends-a-clear-message-to-putin-following-icc-arrest-warrant

4. “Putin’s alleged war crimes: who are the Ukrainian children being taken by Russia?” The Guardian, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/mar/17/vladimir-putin-war-crimes-icc-arrest-warrant-ukraine-children

5. “Ukrainian Intelligence on ICC decision says that Kremlin already looking for successor to Putin” Yahoo Life, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/hur-icc-decision-kremlin-already-114350621.html

6. “‘Not Enough': Ukrainians React To ICC Arrest Warrant, War Crimes Charges Against Putin For Illegal Deportations Of Ukrainian Children” Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.rferl.org/a/ukrainians-react-icc-arrest-warrant-putin/32324276.html

7. “Will Vladimir Putin ever face a war crimes trial?” BBC, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-64994992

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