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ICC Warrants Arrest of Russian President Putin for War Crimes

On 17th March 2023, the International Criminal Court (ICC) made history by issuing an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of war crimes related to the deportation of Ukrainian children from occupied parts of the country to Russia.[0] The court also issued a warrant for the arrest of Maria Lvova-Belova, the Commissioner for Children’s Rights in Putin’s presidential office, on two similar charges relating to the same time period.[1]

Russia has been accused by Ukraine of committing genocide and labeled its actions as a war crime.[2] The ICC claims there are “reasonable grounds to believe that each suspect bears responsibility for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population, and that of unlawful transfer of population from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, in prejudice of Ukrainian children”.[3]

The charges against Putin and Lvova-Belova allege that they are responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of people, in particular children, and their unlawful transfer from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.[4] The International Criminal Court stated that it has sufficient evidence to conclude that President Putin could be held individually accountable for the offenses, whether he acted on his own, in conjunction with others, or by ordering others to commit them.[5]

The arrest warrants mean that any country that has agreed to the Rome Statute, including every member of the European Union, most African states, all Latin and South American states except Cuba and Nicaragua, and even Tajikistan, is required to arrest Putin if he ever steps foot on their territory.[6]

Russia is not a party to the ICC and is not likely to turn over Putin or Lvova-Belova for prosecution.[7] The Ukrainian side has recorded the deportation of 16,221 children from the occupied areas of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, and Kherson, and at least 308 Ukrainian children have reportedly been allowed to return to Ukraine.[1]

It is highly unlikely that Putin will be brought before an International Criminal Court in The Hague in the near future.[8] As long as Putin is president, he’s likely to remain free.[8] Unless he comes before the court and is able to prove his innocence, the label of an alleged war criminal will be attached to him perpetually.[8] In Ukraine, war crimes can be tried in domestic courts, and an increasing number of nations are carrying out their own probes.[9]

0. “Prosecuting Putin for abducting Ukrainian children will require a high bar of evidence – and won't guarantee the children can come back home” The Conversation, 16 Mar. 2023, https://theconversation.com/prosecuting-putin-for-abducting-ukrainian-children-will-require-a-high-bar-of-evidence-and-wont-guarantee-the-children-can-come-back-home-201833

1. “‘Not Enough': Ukrainians React To ICC Arrest Warrant, War Crimes Charges Against Putin For Illegal Deportations Of Ukrainian Children” Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.rferl.org/a/ukrainians-react-icc-arrest-warrant-putin/32324276.html

2. “Putin’s alleged war crimes: who are the Ukrainian children being taken by Russia?” The Guardian, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/mar/17/vladimir-putin-war-crimes-icc-arrest-warrant-ukraine-children

3. “Will Vladimir Putin Actually Be Arrested for ICC Warrant?” TIME, 17 Mar. 2023, https://time.com/6264280/vladimir-putin-icc-warrant-arrest/

4. “ICC issues arrest warrant for Putin, March Madness gets crazy: 5 Things Podcast” USA TODAY, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2023/03/18/icc-issues-arrest-warrant-putin-march-madness-gets-crazy-5-things-podcast/11498320002/

5. “Putin arrest warrant issued over war crime allegations” BBC, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-64992727

6. “ICC Arrest Warrant Turns Putin into a Global Outlaw” Center for European Policy Analysis, 17 Mar. 2023, https://cepa.org/article/putin-becomes-a-global-outlaw

7. “Vladimir Putin Is Officially A Wanted Man” BuzzFeed News, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/davidmack/icc-vladimir-putin-arrest-warrant-war-crimes

8. “Opinion: ICC arrest warrant for Putin is a stunning statement” CNN, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/03/18/opinions/putin-arrest-warrant-icc-russia-ghitis/index.html

9. “All you need to know about the ICC’s arrest warrant for Putin” Al Jazeera English, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/3/17/all-you-need-to-know-about-the-iccs-arrest-warrant-for-putin

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