Biden says Putin’s term ‘justified’ as UK intelligence suggests Kremlin will widen conscription age bracket

The International Criminal Court’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin was “justified”, President Joe Biden said on Friday.

“He clearly committed war crimes,” Biden told reporters at the White House. He added that he thought the warrant was “justified”, although he pointed out that the United States, like Russia, does not recognize the tribunal’s jurisdiction.

His comments came after the ICC warrant accused Putin of committing the “war crime” of overseeing the unlawful abduction and deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia.

He said there were reasonable grounds to believe that Putin bore individual responsibility for the crimes and that he failed to exercise proper control over the subordinates who committed the acts.

A warrant has also been issued for Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, Putin’s presidential commissioner for children’s rights, who the ICC says committed similar crimes.

The move sparked outrage in Russia, where Putin’s press secretary Dmitriy Peskov dismissed the findings. “We do not recognize this court, we do not recognize the jurisdiction of this court. This is how we deal with it,” he said in a Telegram post.

Moscow has consistently denied the war crimes allegations, describing them as a “fantasy” aimed at discrediting Russia. The Russian embassy in the United States said last month that the country had taken in children forced to flee the fighting.

Although Moscow officially withdrew its signature from the ICC’s founding statute in 2016, the ICC’s decision will force the court’s 123 member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to the court’s headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands. , if it crosses their borders.

Volunteers carry the remains of an Uragan rocket after a monastery was destroyed in a bombing in Dolyna, Ukraine.Ihor Tkachov/AFP via Getty Images File

However, most governments also abide by an international legal principle that heads of state enjoy legal immunity from other courts.

In Russia, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence briefing on Saturday that the Kremlin was stepping up military conscription to meet war needs and was likely to change age rules and restrictions on people eligible to serve.

Officials from Russia’s parliament, the Duma, introduced a bill on Monday to change the conscription age bracket for men between the ages of 21 and 30, he said in the daily note posted on Twitter. . Currently, the age range is 18 to 27, he said, adding that the new law would come into force in January.

“Authorities are most likely changing the age bracket to bolster the number of soldiers by ensuring that students will eventually be forced to serve,” the briefing said.

Although Russia continues to officially ban conscripts from operating in Ukraine, “at least hundreds likely served through administrative confusion or were coerced into signing contracts,” he said.

This will free up a greater proportion of professional soldiers to fight, even if conscripts are not deployed in the conflict in Ukraine, according to the briefing.

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