THE HAGUE – The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova in relation to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the court said in a statement Friday.
The ICC said the warrant was issued allegedly “for the war crime of unlawful deportation of the population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation."
While arrest warrants are usually issued in secrecy to protect victims and witnesses and also to safeguard the investigation, the ICC said it authorized the public disclosure of the existence of the warrants against the top Russian official to prevent the further commission of crimes.
“The public disclosure of the names of the suspects and the crimes for which the warrants are issued was made because the conduct addressed in the present situation is allegedly ongoing and that the public awareness of the warrants may contribute to the prevention of the further commission of crimes,” it said.
But Russia was unperturbed by the ICC cases against its chief executive.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction.
"We consider the very formulation of the issue outrageous and unacceptable. Russia, as well as several other states, do not recognize the jurisdiction of this court and, accordingly, any decisions of this kind are null and void for Russia in terms of law," Peskov told reporters.
"That is, in fact, the only thing I would and could tell you about this decision."
Peskov did not comment on a question about whether the court's decision would affect Putin's visits to countries that recognized the jurisdiction of the ICC.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, in comments on the information from the Hague, likewise said decisions of the court have no consequence in Russia and any potential arrest warrants are null and void.
The International Criminal Court was established by the Rome Statute in 1998. It is not part of the UN and is accountable to the countries that have ratified the statute.
The countries that aren’t parties to the statute include Russia, US, and China.
Russia signed the law but did not ratify it.
The US also signed the statute but later on revoked its signature.
Putin signed an executive order in 2016 that stated Russia would not be a member of the ICC.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden said Friday he considers the decision of the pre-trial chamber of the ICC to issue a warrant for Putin’s arrest justified.
But the United States does not recognize the decision of this court, he told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before flying to Delaware.
His words are quoted by the White House press corps.
When asked about the ICC's decision on Putin, Biden said, "Well, I think it's justified. But the question is, it's not recognized internationally by us, either. But I think it makes a very strong point."
When asked to comment on the coming meeting in Moscow between Russian leader and Chinese President Xi Jinping next week Biden said, "Well, we'll see when that meeting takes place." (TASS)