Putin’s arrest warrant: Biden welcomes ICC war crimes charges

  • Kathryn Armstrong, Antoinette Radford and Frank Gardner, BBC security correspondent
  • BBC news

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Vladimir Putin can now be arrested if he steps into one of the ICC’s 120-plus member states

US President Joe Biden is satisfied with the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court against his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

The ICC accused President Putin of war crimes in Ukraine – something President Biden said the Russian leader “clearly” did.

The allegations concern the illegal deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia after the 2022 attack on Moscow.

Moscow has denied the accusations and condemned the arrest warrants as “reasonable”.

It is highly unlikely that much will come of the movement, as the ICC does not have the authority to detain suspects without the cooperation of the country’s government.

Russia is not a member country of the ICC, which means that the court in The Hague does not have jurisdiction there.

However, it may affect Putin in other ways, such as the inability to travel internationally. He can now be arrested if he steps into one of the court’s 123 member states.

Putin is only the third president to be subject to an ICC arrest warrant.

President Biden said that while the court also had no influence in the United States, granting the order “is a very strong thing.”

“He has clearly committed war crimes,” he told reporters.

The International Criminal Court said in a statement on Friday that it has reasonable grounds to believe that Putin committed the criminal acts directly and worked with others. It also accused him of not using his presidential powers to prevent the children from being deported.

Russian Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova is also wanted by the ICC for the same crimes.

International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan has said the arrest warrants were based on forensic evidence, an investigation and what the two people said.

The court had initially considered keeping the arrest warrants secret, but decided to make them public to prevent further crimes.

“Children cannot be treated as spoils of war, they cannot be deported,” Khan told the BBC.

“You don’t have to be a lawyer for crimes like this, you have to be human to know how outrageous it is.”

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WATCH: Can Vladimir Putin really be arrested?

Khan also pointed out that no one believed that Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, who was convicted of war crimes in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s, would end up in The Hague for trial.

“Those who feel they can commit a crime during the day and sleep well at night should perhaps look at history,” Khan said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said all court rulings were null and void, and former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev compared the order to toilet paper.

Russian opposition activists have reacted positively to the announcement. Ivan Ĺ˝danov, a close ally of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, tweeted that it was a “symbolic step” but an important one.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has expressed his gratitude to Khan and the ICC for their decision to prosecute the “state evil”.

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