The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over allegations of war crimes in Ukraine.
In a statement, the ICC said Putin was allegedly responsible for unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia, a war crime.
“The crimes were allegedly committed in Ukrainian occupied territory at least from 24 February 2022. There are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes,” the statement from ICC judges said.
An arrest warrant has also been issued for Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s children’s commissioner, over the same allegations.
It was reported earlier this week by the New York Times and Reuters that the prosecutor at the ICC would ask pre-trial judges to approve arrest warrants over the allegations of mass abduction of Ukrainian children following last year’s invasion.
These are the first ICC warrants issued in relation to the invasion.
Russia is not a member of the ICC and is not about to hand Putin or Lvova-Belova over to the court in The Hague, in the Netherlands.
In 2008, Omar al-Bashir, then the president of Sudan, became the first sitting head of state to be served with an arrest warrant by the ICC. The Sudanese government of the day did not recognise the warrant or the court. However after Al-Bashir was overthrown following large-scale protests in 2019, Sudanese authorities said they would hand him over to the ICC.
In theory, any country that is a signatory to the Rome Statute which established the ICC has a duty to arrest Putin, but he is extremely unlikely to travel to any of these countries.