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International Court Issues Warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin's Arrest

Prosecutor Karim A. A. Khan said Putin had been involved with 'the deportation of at least hundreds of children taken from orphanages and children’s care homes'

The International Criminal Court has issued a warrant for the arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin for his alleged role in the unlawful deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children.

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 President of the Russian Federation, on related charges. 

Prosecutor Karim A. A. Khan KC said in a statement published on March 17 that “the Pre-Trial Chamber has confirmed that there are reasonable grounds to believe that President Putin and Ms Lvova-Belova bear criminal responsibility for the unlawful deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation” based on evidence collected by his office.

Incidents identified by my Office include the deportation of at least hundreds of children taken from orphanages and children’s care homes,” said Kahn. “Many of these children, we allege, have since been given for adoption in the Russian Federation. The law was changed in the Russian Federation, through Presidential decrees issued by President Putin, to expedite the conferral of Russian citizenship, making it easier for them to be adopted by Russian families.”

“My Office alleges that these acts, amongst others, demonstrate an intention to permanently remove these children from their own country. At the time of these deportations, the Ukrainian children were protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention,” the prosecutor added. “We also underlined in our application that most acts in this pattern of deportations were carried out in the context of the acts of aggression committed by Russian military forces against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine which began in 2014.”

Khan has visited Ukraine on four occasions as part of the investigation into the alleged abduction of children. 

According to The Guardian, the Russian government has “been completely overt about its taking Ukrainian children to Russia and placing them in camps or putting them up for adoption by Russian families.”

Lvova-Belova reportedly said in a recent television appearance that she had personally adopted a 15-year-old from the south-eastern Ukrainian city Mariupol, which is currently controlled by Russian forces.

The Kremlin dismissed the announcement. Russia does not recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction, leaving little chance of any trial.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the court’s announcement “outrageous and unacceptable” but also “legal[ly] void” in response to the warrant, per AP News

“What I want to say: firstly, it’s great that the international community has appreciated the work to help the children of our country, that we don’t leave them in the war zone, that we take them out, that we create good conditions for them, surround them with loving caring people,” said Lvova-Belova, who allegedly led the effort to transfer children, in a statement

Several war leaders have accused Russia of committing war crimes since its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

United States President Joe Biden called Putin a “war criminal” in March of 2022. During a visit from American Vice President Kamala Harris one week earlier, Polish President Andrzej Duda said, “It is obvious to us that, in Ukraine, Russians are committing war crimes.”

“Absolutely there should be an investigation, and we should all be watching,” Duda said.

Like Russia, the United States does not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

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