Russia has dismissed “war crimes” accusations against its president as null and void
File photo: The International Criminal Court building in The Hague, Netherlands © AP Photo/Peter Dejong
The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday alleged that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova may have committed war crimes by “deporting” and “transferring” children from Ukraine. Moscow has dismissed the move as preposterous and not legally binding, since Russia never ratified the court’s jurisdiction.
What does the ICC claim?
The Pre-trial Chamber issued an “arrest warrant” for Putin and Lvova-Belova, accusing them of personal and command responsibility for what they described as “unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine.” The accusations appear to be based on the Kiev government’s interpretation of Russian efforts to evacuate civilians away from frontline areas that the Ukrainian military has targeted, often with NATO-supplied weapons.
What does the “warrant” mean?
In legal terms, nothing whatsoever. Though Russia was one of the signatories to the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding document, it never ratified the treaty and officially withdrew from it in 2016. Whatever the court claims or does is null and void in Russia, both Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov and Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed on Friday.
Is Russia alone in not recognizing the ICC?
While 123 states have signed the Rome Statute, 41 have not – including China, India, Saudi Arabia and Türkiye. Besides Russia, Israel, Sudan and the US have also withdrawn their signatures. The US Congress even passed a law in 2002 prohibiting any cooperation with the court and authorizing “all means necessary and appropriate” to release any American – or national of an allied country – from the Hague, by military force if necessary.
What was the Russian reaction?
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the ICC announcement as “outrageous and unacceptable.” Senator Andrey Klishas, from the ruling United Russia party, said the ICC just put itself on the road to self-destruction. Former president and deputy chair of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev compared the “warrant” to toilet paper. Crimean Senator Sergei Tsekov said the ICC decision demonstrates that Western-created institutions have become “worthless and insignificant.” Lvova-Belova sarcastically thanked the “international community” for appreciating her work to help rescue children from the zone of combat operations.