Arrest Warrant for Putin: Biden Welcomes ICC War Crimes Charges

  • By Katherine Armstrong, Antoinette Radford, Frank Gardner, BBC Security Correspondent
  • BBC news

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Vladimir Putin could be arrested if he set foot in one of the ICC’s more than 120 member states.

US President Joe Biden has welcomed the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The ICC has accused Putin of committing war crimes in Ukraine. President Biden said the Russian leader had “clearly” done so.

The claims focus on the illegal deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia since the 2022 invasion of Moscow.

Moscow denied the allegations and accused the warrant of being “outrageous”.

The ICC does not have the authority to arrest suspects without the cooperation of governments, so the move is unlikely to have much success.

As Russia is not a member of the ICC, the courts in The Hague have no jurisdiction.

But it could affect Putin in other ways, such as preventing him from traveling abroad. If he sets foot in any of the Court’s 123 member states, he can be arrested.

Putin is the third president to have an ICC arrest warrant issued.

President Biden said the court had no influence in the United States, but issuing the warrant would “make a very strong point.”

“He obviously committed a war crime,” he told reporters.

In a statement on Friday, the ICC said it had reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin not only directly committed criminal acts, but cooperated with others. He also accused him of not using his presidential powers to stop his children from being deported.

Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Livova Belova, is also wanted by the ICC for the same crime.

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said the warrant was “based on forensic evidence, scrutiny, and the statements of two individuals.”

The court initially considered keeping the arrest warrant confidential, but decided to make it public to deter further crimes from being committed.

“Children should not be treated as spoils of war and should not be deported,” Khan told the BBC.

“This kind of crime doesn’t require you to be a lawyer. You need to be a human being to know how bad it is.”

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Watch: Will Vladimir Putin actually be arrested?

Khan also pointed out that no one expected Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, who was tried for war crimes in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s, to be tried in The Hague.

“People who think they commit crimes by day and sleep well at night should probably turn to history,” Khan said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said both of the court’s decisions were “null,” while former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev compared the warrant to toilet paper.

Russian opposition activists welcomed the announcement. Ivan Zhdanov, a close ally of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny, tweeted that it was a “symbolic step” but an important one.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Mr Khan and the ICC for their decision to denounce “state evil”.

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