The ICC said in a statement on Friday that Putin is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of children, and that of unlawful transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia since Feb. 24, 2022 – the day Putin ordered a wide-scale invasion in the neighbouring country.
The ICC cited the charges under articles in the Rome Statute of the ICC.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes, for having committed the acts directly, jointly with others and/or through others and for his failure to exercise control properly over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts, or allowed for their commission, and who were under his effective authority and control, pursuant to superior responsibility,” the court said.
It also issued an arrest warrant for Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, commissioner for children’s rights in the office of the president of the Russian Federation, under the same charges.
Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations that its forces have committed atrocities during its one-year invasion of its neighbour. The Kremlin did not immediately respond to the charges.
Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said Canada “welcomes” the ICC’s decision.
“Canada stands firmly with the people of Ukraine,” she said in a tweet.
U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters Friday that Putin “clearly committed war crimes” and said the charge was justified.
“I think it makes a very strong point,” he added.
What can the ICC do?
A potential trial of any Russians at the ICC is a long way off, especially as Moscow doesn’t recognize the court’s jurisdiction, and won’t extradite its nationals. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov reaffirmed that position earlier this week.
Ukraine is also not a member of the court, but it has granted the ICC jurisdiction over its territory and ICC prosecutor Karim Khan has visited four times since starting an investigation a year ago.
The ICC said that its pre-trial chamber found there were “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.”
On Thursday, a UN-backed inquiry cited Russian attacks against civilians in Ukraine, including systematic torture and killing in occupied regions, among potential issues that amount to war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.
The sweeping investigation also found crimes committed against Ukrainians on Russian territory, including deported Ukrainian children who were prevented from reuniting with their families, a “filtration” system aimed at singling out Ukrainians for detention, and torture and inhumane detention conditions.
— with files from Sean Boynton and The Associated Press
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