The International Criminal Court on Friday, March 17 issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes over his alleged involvement in abductions of children from Ukraine.
In an unprecedented move, the court said in a statement that Putin “is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of (children) and that of unlawful transfer of (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”
It also issued a warrant 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.
Even if the court has court has indicted world leaders before, it was the first time it issued a warrant against one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.
The move was immediately dismissed by Moscow but welcomed by Ukraine.
The court’s president, Piotr Hofmanski, said in a video statement that while the ICC’s judges have issued the warrants, it will be up to the international community to enforce them. The court has no police force of its own to enforce warrants.
“The ICC is doing its part of work as a court of law,” he said. “The judges issued arrest warrants. The execution depends on international cooperation.”
The chances of a trial of any Russians at the ICC is unlikely though as Moscow does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia doesn’t recognize the ICC and considers its decisions “legally void.” He added that Russia considers the court’s move “outrageous and unacceptable.”
Peskov them refused to comment when asked if Putin would avoid making trips to countries where he could be arrested on the ICC’s warrant.
Olga Lopatkina, a Ukrainian mother who struggled for months to reclaim her foster children who were deported to an institution ran by Russian loyalists, welcomed the news of the arrest warrant. “Good news!” she said to AP. “Everyone must be punished for their crimes.”
“The world changed,” Ukraine’s presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak on Twitter.