The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
The Hague-based court said in a statement on Friday the warrant was issued over Putin’s suspected involvement in the unlawful deportation and transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes,” added the court, which has no police force of its own to enforce warrants.
The ICC also issued a warrant for the arrest of Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, the commissioner for children’s rights in the office of the Russian president on similar allegations.
— Int'l Criminal Court (@IntlCrimCourt) March 17, 2023
Russia, which denies committing atrocities since it invaded Ukraine in February last year, does not recognise the ICC’s jurisdiction and does not extradite its nationals.
“The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on her Telegram channel after the ICC’s announcement.
“Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and bears no obligations under it.”
The warrants came a day after a United Nations-backed inquiry accused Russia of committing wide-ranging war crimes in Ukraine, including the forced deportations of children in areas it controls.
Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin hailed the ICC’s decision.
“The world received a signal that the Russian regime is criminal and its leadership and henchmen will be held accountable,” he said in a statement on social media. “This is a historic decision for Ukraine and the entire system of international law.