The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over alleged war crimes in Ukraine, a move dismissed by Moscow as meaningless.
The Hague-based court said in a statement on Friday the warrant was issued over Putin’s suspected involvement in the unlawful deportation and transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility” for the child abductions “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,” the statement added.
The ICC, which has no powers to enforce its warrants, also issued a warrant for the arrest of Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, the commissioner for children’s rights in the office of the Russian president, on similar allegations.
Russia, which denies committing atrocities since it invaded Ukraine in February last year, rejected the ICC’s move as null and void.
“The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on her Telegram channel after the announcement.
“Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and bears no obligations under it.”
But ICC President Piotr Hofmanski told Al Jazeera it was “completely irrelevant” that Russia had not ratified the Rome Statute.
“According to the ICC statute, which has 123 state parties, two-thirds of the whole international community, the court has jurisdiction over crimes committed in the territory of a state party or a state which has accepted its jurisdiction,” he said. “Ukraine has accepted the ICC twice – in 2014 and then in 2015.”
Hofmanski said 43 states had referred “the situation in Ukraine to the court, which means they have formally triggered our jurisdiction”.
“The court has jurisdiction over crimes committed on anyone on the territory of Ukraine from November 2013 onwards regardless of the nationality of the alleged perpetrators,” Hofmanski said.
The warrants came a day after a United Nations-backed inquiry accused Russia of committing wide-ranging war crimes in Ukraine, including the forced deportations of children in areas it controls.
Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin hailed the announcement by the ICC.
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