Russia mocks ICC order vs Putin: No jurisdiction
MOSCOW — The Kremlin said on Friday the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against President Vladimir Putin was legally “void,” since Moscow does not recognize the Hague-based court’s jurisdiction.
Yet top officials and propagandists seethed with anger at the warrant announced earlier on Friday, while members of the opposition hailed the move — although Russia is not a member of the ICC.
Putin is accused before the court of “unlawful deportation” of Ukrainian children since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine beginning February last year.
US President Joe Biden also weighed in on the matter, saying the arrest warrant was “justified,” since Putin had “clearly committed war crimes.”
Speaking to reporters, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said “Russia, just like a number of different countries, does not recognize the jurisdiction of this court and so from a legal point of view, the decisions of this court are void.”
Foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said the ICC’s decisions “have no meaning,” since “Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the ICC and bears no obligations under it.”
Without referring to Putin by name, she said “possible recipes for arrest coming from the international court will be legally void as far as we are concerned.”
Russia’s former President Dmitry Medvedev took to Twitter, likening the arrest warrant to toilet paper.
The ICC had also issued a warrant against Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s presidential commissioner for children’s rights, on similar charges.
Probe into ICC
“There have been sanctions against me from all countries, even Japan, and now an arrest warrant,” Lvova-Belova was quoted as saying by state news agency RIA Novosti.
“But we will continue our work,” she said.
Meanwhile, the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, which looks into major crimes, ordered a probe into the ICC warrants against “Russian citizens.”
Investigators said in a statement that the committee “will identify specific individuals from among the ICC judges who made the obviously illegal decisions.”
Margarita Simonyan, head of state broadcaster RT, hinted that Moscow could respond militarily to any attempts to arrest the Russian president.
“I would like to see the country that arrests Putin by the decision of The Hague. Some eight minutes after. Or however long the flight time will be to its capital,” she said on social media.ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan opened the investigation into possible war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Ukraine a year ago.
Khan highlighted during four trips to Ukraine that he was looking at alleged crimes against children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure.
Speaking to Agence France-Presse (AFP), Khan said there were “so many examples of people that thought they were beyond the reach of the law.”
“Look at (Slobodan) Milosevic or Charles Taylor or (Radovan) Karadzic or (Ratko) Mladic,” he said, referring to a series of war criminals from the former Yugoslavia, and former Liberian President Taylor, who have faced justice.
The ICC move obligates the court’s 123 member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot on their territory.
Members of the opposition also took to social media as they hailed the arrest order on Putin.
“Congratulations to Vladimir Vladimirovich on his arrest in absentia! This is just the first step,” said Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who had spent a decade behind bars.
“Lock him up!” tweeted activist Vladimir Milov, an ally of jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny.
‘Not recognized by us’
In Washington, Biden told reporters that the arrest warrant “makes a very strong point.”
“But the question is, it’s not recognized internationally by us either,” the US president said, noting that the United States is also not a member of the ICC.
A Department of State spokesperson said in an emailed statement: “There is no doubt that Russia is committing war crimes and atrocities [in] Ukraine, and we have been clear that those responsible must be held accountable.”
A report last month by Yale University researchers said Russia has held some 6,000 Ukrainian children in at least 43 camps and other facilities as part of a “large-scale systematic network.”
But Russia has denied committing atrocities.
Biden says Putin committed war crimes, calls ICC arrest warrant ‘justified’
Factbox: Details of ICC arrest warrant against Putin
But will Putin ever be arrested and put on trial?
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