ICC President Piotr Hofmanski announced in a video statement on Friday that the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant against Putin for the alleged war crimes of deporting children from Ukrainian-occupied territories into the Russian Federation. The transfer of civilians from occupied areas to other territories is prohibited under international law.
To protect the identities of the allegedly abducted children, the contents of the warrants would be kept confidential. Naturally, the Kremlin considers the arrest warrant illegitimate, The Epoch Times reported.
“Nevertheless, the judges of the chamber dealing with this case decided to make the existence of the warrants public in the interest of justice and to prevent the commission of future crimes,” he said.
The enforcement of the ICC's warrants will be the responsibility of the international community, as the court does not have its own police force, the outlet reported. “The execution depends on international cooperation,” Hofmanski said.
It remains uncertain how international cooperation would lead to Putin's arrest, but Russia has made it clear that it has no intention of cooperating. The Kremlin stated earlier this week that it does not recognize the jurisdiction or authority of the ICC.
“We do not recognize this court; we do not recognize its jurisdiction,” Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, told journalists in Moscow earlier this week.
His rejection of the warrant came amid speculation that ICC prosecutors were preparing to open war crimes cases and issue arrest warrants for those responsible for the targeting of Ukrainian civilian infrastructure and the mass abduction of children.
The court also issued an arrest warrant for Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, the Commissioner for Children's Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, on similar allegations, the outlet reported.
The ICC noted in a statement that both Putin and Lvova-Belova are “allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”
“The crimes were allegedly committed in Ukrainian occupied territory at least from 24 February 2022,” the court said, which is the date Russia invaded UIkrain over what Moscow calls a “special military operation.”
ICC prosecutor Karim Khan opened an investigation into possible war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Ukraine about a year ago. Khan has stated that during his four trips to Ukraine, he was examining the alleged targeting of civilian infrastructure and crimes against children, The Epoch Times added.
Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin praised the ICC's decision on social media.
“The world received a signal that the Russian regime is criminal and its leadership and henchmen will be held accountable,” he said. “This is a historic decision for Ukraine and the entire system of international law.”
Andriy Yermak, Ukraine’s presidential chief of staff, called the ICC's warrants "just the beginning."
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine was years in the making.
In 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine, annexing Crimea and sparking a conflict that has resulted in thousands of deaths and displacement of people in eastern Ukraine. The conflict began as a result of Ukraine's decision to move closer to the European Union and away from Russia's sphere of influence. In response, Russia annexed Crimea, a Ukrainian territory with a large ethnic Russian population.
The conflict escalated when pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine declared independence and seized control of several cities. The Ukrainian government responded with military force, leading to a full-scale conflict. The separatists have been accused of receiving support from Russia, including weapons and troops. Russia denies involvement in the conflict, but evidence suggests otherwise, reports have noted.