US President Joe Biden has expressed support for the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to issue an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin. The ICC has accused Putin of committing war crimes in Ukraine, including the illegal deportation of children to Russia since Moscow’s invasion in 2022. The Russian government has denied the allegations, dismissing the warrants as “outrageous”. Although Russia is not an ICC member, the move could prevent Putin from traveling to any of the court’s 123 member states.
“Children Can’t Be Treated as the Spoils of War”
The ICC’s arrest warrant accuses Putin of committing criminal acts directly and through the help of others, as well as failing to use his presidential powers to stop children from being deported. The prosecutor for the ICC, Karim Khan, stated that the warrants were based on forensic evidence and scrutiny. The ICC had initially considered keeping the warrants confidential but decided to make them public to prevent further crimes from being committed. Khan emphasized the seriousness of the allegations, saying that “children can’t be treated as the spoils of war”.
Outrage from Moscow
The Kremlin has dismissed the ICC’s decision, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov calling it “null and void”. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev compared the warrant to toilet paper. However, Russian opposition activists have welcomed the announcement, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has thanked the ICC for pressing charges against “state evil”.
A Strong Point
President Biden, whose administration had earlier “formally determined” that Russia had committed war crimes in Ukraine, supported the ICC’s decision. Biden said that the move made a strong point, even though the court had no jurisdiction over the US. Putin is only the third president to be issued with an ICC arrest warrant. The United Nations had released a report earlier this week that found Moscow’s forced removal of Ukrainian children to areas under its control amounted to a war crime.
Looking to History
ICC prosecutor Karim Khan compared the situation to that of Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian leader who was tried for war crimes in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo in the 1990s. Khan said that those who think they can commit crimes in the daytime and sleep well at night should look at history.