International Criminal Court (ICC), has issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin. He is accused of kidnapping children from Ukraine.
It issued a warrant to Maria Alekseyevna Lvova–Belova, Russia , for her arrest on similar charges of war crimes.
According to the Kremlin, Russia considered the questions raised at the ICC “outrageous” and “unacceptable”.
They stated that warrants are “null & void” because Russia has not recognized the ICC or signed up for the Rome Statutes – a treaty which underpins the permanent war crimes tribunal in the world.
Ukraine war: Latest updates as judges issue warrants for Putin; new jets promise
Ms. Lvova-Belova stated that her arrest warrant was valid for her work “helping children of our country”.
The court stated that the Russian President was “responsible” for the war crimes of unlawful deportation (children) as well as the unlawful transfer (children) of population (children from occupied areas in Ukraine the Russian Federation.
According to the ICC, the pre-trial chamber concluded that there was “reasonable ground to believe” that two suspects were responsible for the alleged war crime and that Putin is “individually liable”.
Russia has sent thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia, but the program was presented as a humanitarian campaign to help abandoned children and orphans living in conflict zones.
Dominic Waghorn, Sky News’ international affairs editor, stated that Putin is unlikely to be tried.
Waghorn analyzed the warrants and found that there was “a long list” of people who were indicted, but not brought to court.
Waghorn stated that unless the war ends badly for him, he’s been toppled from power, and he has handed over, it’s unlikely that he will face trial.
View our December report:
Video shows Russian FSB agents and soldiers scouring Ukrainian orphanages for children
How many Ukrainian children were taken?
It is not known how many children were taken from Ukraine, and different organizations offer different estimates.
Waghorn stated: “One respected American human rights group estimates that 6,000 children were deported to Russia. The Ukrainians think it’s closer to 16,000. And the Russians themselves claim that 700,000 children were taken from Ukraine since 2014.
Chief of the Ukrainian presidential staff Andriy Yermak said that Ukraine had closely cooperated with the ICC. Currently, the ICC is investigating more than 16,000 cases in which children were forced to be deported to Russia.
So far, Ukraine has been able to return 308 children.
Waghorn suggests that the motivation behind mass abductions can be split into two parts. Older children can be trained for military service, while younger children can serve as propaganda tools for Russia.
Waghorn stated that he had seen orphans and children from Ukraine being paraded to events in Moscow for the Russian people recently. Putin claimed they were saving these children. He also said that they are doing a good job trying to support their claim that the Ukrainians are actually saving themselves.
A warrant of arrest makes it more difficult to find a diplomatic solution
Sky News was the first to show video evidence that Russian soldiers were searching for children in Ukraine.
We broadcast chilling CCTV footage of 15 children being taken by the Russian military at gunpoint in Kherson’s orphanage. The footage was also shown in an adjacent orphanage.
According to one independent study, 6,000 children were taken by the Russians. However, the Ukrainians claim that the real number is much higher.
There have been numerous reports that children were kidnapped, abducted or persuaded by the Russians to join them in this war.
Some children have been seen resurfacing in Russia, some of which were presided over Putin by his own government. They are being paraded by Russians who claim to have saved them from war and the Ukrainian government that Moscow claims is run by Nazis.
These allegations now form the basis of International Criminal Court Arrest warrants, which go all the way to the top of Russia’s government and President Putin’s Children’s Rights Commissioner Mara Lvova Belova.
Russian state television has shown her weeping. She says she was happy to have adopted Ukrainian orphans, which she claims she saved.
She boasted openly about the terrible things happening to Ukraine’s children. She says she believes she is saving them.
She is accused of running a system in which Ukrainian children are trafficked into Russia from outside Russia.
This is a significant development. This makes it even more difficult to believe that a diplomatic solution can ever be reached.
It puts pressure on countries that have been ambivalent towards Russia’s invasion, abstaining from UN votes condemning it or colluding with Moscow in its efforts to avoid sanctions.
ICC investigation into war crimes
Piotr Hofmanski, president of the ICC, stated that warrants are “an important moment” in the justice process.
He stated that the judges were able to find credible evidence against the accused for the crime.
He said, “Their execution [of warrants] depends upon international cooperation.”
Karim Khan, the ICC prosecutor, had opened an investigation a few years ago into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.
Khan mentioned that he had previously visited Afghanistan to examine the targeting of civilian infrastructure as well as alleged crimes against children. Children are under special protection under the Geneva Convention.
Ukraine is not a member but has given the ICC jurisdiction over its territory.
James Cleverly, Foreign Secretary, welcomed the ICC warrant, which he stated would “hold those at top of the Russian Regime, including Vladimir Putin to account”.
He wrote that “work must continue to examine the atrocities committed”, via Twitter.
Senior Ukrainian officials applauded ICC’s decision, with Ukraine’s prosecutor general Andriy Kolin stating that the decision was “historical for Ukraine and all international law systems”.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukrainian Foreign Minister, wrote on Twitter: “Wheels are turning in justice: I applaud ICC’s decision to issue arrest warrants Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova Belova over the forcible transfer Ukrainian children.”
Josep Borrell is the EU representative for foreign affairs, security policy and international relations. He said that the warrants “only the beginning of holding Russia responsible for the crimes and atrocities committed in Ukraine”.