By Mayank Chhaya-
In an extraordinary step that may not eventually mean much, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant against Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
“On the basis of evidence collected and analysed by my Office pursuant to its independent investigations, the Pre-Trial Chamber has confirmed that there are reasonable grounds to believe that President Putin and Ms Lvova-Belova bear criminal responsibility for the unlawful deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation,” a statement by ICC Prosecutor Karim A. A. Khan said.
“Incidents identified by my Office include the deportation of at least hundreds of children taken from orphanages and children’s care homes. Many of these children, we allege, have since been given for adoption in the Russian Federation. The law was changed in the Russian Federation, through Presidential decrees issued by President Putin, to expedite the conferral of Russian citizenship, making it easier for them to be adopted by Russian families,” Khan said.
“My Office alleges that these acts, amongst others, demonstrate an intention to permanently remove these children from their own country. At the time of these deportations, the Ukrainian children were protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
We also underlined in our application that most acts in this pattern of deportations were carried out in the context of the acts of aggression committed by Russian military forces against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine which began in 2014,” the statement said.
The arrest warrant, although serious in itself, may not have any deterring impact on Putin. “The decisions of the international criminal court have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view,” Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said on her Telegram channel. “Russia is not a party to the Rome statute of the international criminal court and bears no obligations under it.”
Even the U.S. and India are not a state party to the Rome Statute. So far 123 countries have ratified the statue.