The Kremlin has said the charges brought against Vladimir Putin by the International Criminal Court make no sense with regard to jurisdiction in Russia.
US President Joe Biden has said Vladimir Putin has clearly committed war crimes in Ukraine and the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s issuance of an arrest warrant for the Russian president is warranted.
Although the United States, like Russia, is not a party to the international court, Biden said the ICC made a strong case against Putin.
“He clearly committed war crimes,” Biden told reporters on Friday. “I think it’s justified,” he said, referring to the arrest warrant.
“It’s not recognized internationally by us either. But I think that makes a very strong point,” he added.
Earlier on Friday, the ICC called for the arrest of Putin on suspicion of his involvement in the illegal deportation and transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
The court also issued an arrest warrant for Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s children’s rights commissioner, on the same charges.
The ICC’s mandate now obliges the Court’s 123 member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot on their territory.
The Kremlin said the court’s charges against Putin were outrageous and meaningless when it comes to jurisdiction in Russia.
A US-backed report by Yale University researchers last month found that Russia had detained at least 6,000 Ukrainian children in at least 43 camps and other facilities as part of a “systematic network in large scale”.
The Ukrainian government recently said more than 14,700 children had been deported to Russia, including more than 1,000 from the port city of Mariupol, which was besieged for weeks and virtually destroyed.
The United States has separately concluded that Russian forces committed war crimes in Ukraine and supports accountability for war crimes perpetrators, a State Department spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
“There is no doubt that Russia is committing war crimes and atrocities (in) Ukraine, and we have made it clear that those responsible must be held accountable,” the spokesperson added.
ICC President Piotr Hofmanski said in a video statement that while the court’s judges have issued the arrest warrants, it will be up to the international community to enforce them. The court does not have its own police force to do so.
The ICC can impose a maximum sentence of life imprisonment “where the extreme gravity of the crime so warrants”, according to its founding treaty, the Rome Statute. This established the ICC as a permanent court of last resort to prosecute political leaders and other key perpetrators of the world’s worst atrocities – war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.