US President Joe Biden has publicly welcomed the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to issue an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin. The court has accused Putin of committing war crimes in Ukraine, specifically related to the unlawful deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia following Moscow’s invasion in 2022.
President Biden has affirmed that Putin has clearly committed war crimes, while the Russian government has rejected the accusations and dismissed the warrants as outrageous.
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Although the ICC has no authority in Russia as it is not a member country, the arrest warrant could impact Putin in other ways, such as restricting his international travel. If he sets foot in any of the court’s 123 member states, he could be arrested. Putin is only the third president to be issued with an ICC arrest warrant.
In addition to the ICC, the United Nations also released a report earlier this week that found Moscow’s forced removal of Ukrainian children to areas under its control amounted to a war crime.
The ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, has stated that the warrants were “based upon forensic evidence, scrutiny and what’s been said by those two individuals.” The court had initially considered keeping the arrest warrants a secret but decided to make them public to try and prevent further crimes from being committed.
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While the ICC holds no sway in the US, President Biden said that the issuing of the warrant “makes a very strong point.” His administration had previously “formally determined” that Russia had committed war crimes during the conflict in Ukraine. Vice-President Kamala Harris had stated in February that those involved would “be held to account.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has dismissed the court’s decisions as null and void, and Russian opposition activists have welcomed the announcement. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed his appreciation to Mr Khan and the ICC for their decision to press charges against state evil.
ICC prosecutor Karim Khan has also pointed out that nobody thought Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, who went on trial for war crimes in the 1990s, would end up in The Hague to face justice.