The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for his country’s aggression in Ukraine. Putin’s forces have been accused of war crimes in Ukraine, having targeted civilian infrastructure and tortured and killed civilians.
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine shocked the world last year, and now prosecutors want to see him brought to justice.
This comes days after prosecutor Karim Khan brought two cases of war crimes to the ICC.
He asked a pre-trial panel to approve the arrest warrants for the mass abduction of children and attacks on civilian infrastructure.
Numerous reports have documented missile attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.
Russia has also been accused of abducting children and sending them to re-education camps.
Moscow has denied allegations of war crimes.
Russia was accused of war crimes from early on in the conflict. Last year, Russia‘s retreat from the capital Kyiv left behind a number of Ukrainian civilian casualties with evidence of torture also found in cities like Bucha.
Mass graves were also found, with Ukrainian civilians left dead after the Russian occupation.
Photographic evidence also showed corpses of civilians with their hands tied behind their backs having been shot at point-blank range. This was seen as proof that there were executions of civilians.
While an arrest warrant has now been put out for Putin and other Kremlin allies, it remains unlikely that Putin will stand trial.
This is because, as things stand, the ICC does not try defendants in absentia.
In a statement, the ICC said: “[Putin] is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”
The court added that its pre-trial chamber found there were “reasonable grounds to believe that each suspect bears responsibility for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population and that of unlawful transfer of population from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, in prejudice of Ukrainian children.”
Balkees Jarrah, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch told the Guardian: “With these arrest warrants, the ICC has made Putin a wanted man and taken its first step to ending the impunity that has emboldened perpetrators in Russia’s war against Ukraine for far too long.
“The warrants send a clear message that giving orders to commit or tolerating serious crimes against civilians may lead to a prison cell in The Hague. The court’s warrants are a wakeup call to others committing abuses or covering them up that their day in court may be coming, regardless of their rank or position.”
Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia and former President and Prime Minister of Russia hit back at the ICC today.
He said: “The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant against Vladimir Putin. No need to explain WHERE this paper should be used [toilet paper emoji].”
“Today’s announcement sends an important message: there will no hiding place for Putin and his cronies and the world is determined to make them pay for what they have done.