Vladimir Putin, this Friday in Moscow.SPUTNIK (via REUTERS)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued this Friday an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin for his alleged responsibility in the forced deportation of Ukrainian minors from the occupied territories to Russia. This is a war crime for which the court also points to Maria Lvova-Belova, Kremlin Commissioner for Children’s Rights. The Ukrainian government estimates that 16,221 minors have been deported from the country since the Russian invasion, which has been over a year.

Since Russia is not a member of the ICC and does not recognize its jurisdiction, the judges have asked for the support of the international community to carry out both arrests. These could only occur in two cases: either that the accused traveled to a country that is part of this court and was willing to arrest them, or that there was a regime change in Russia that would allow the extradition of Putin and Lvova-Belova. . Putin is the third sitting president to have received an arrest warrant from the ICC, after Omar al Bashir of Sudan and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya.

“This is just the beginning,” said Andri Yermak, head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office. The European Union, which is trying to carry out various projects to achieve reparation for Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine, has defined the decision of the International Tribunal as “very important”. “The seriousness of the crimes and the declaration of the International Criminal Court speak for themselves,” said the High Representative for Foreign Policy and Defense, Josep Borrell. “This is just the beginning of the accountability process and holding Russia and its leader accountable for the crimes and atrocities they are committing in Ukraine,” Borrell said, adding: “There can be no impunity.”

After reviewing the evidence presented by the Prosecutor’s Office, the judges consider that there are “reasonable grounds to sustain the responsibility” of Putin and Lvova-Belova in the illegal deportation of minors to Russia from the occupied areas of Ukraine. Karim Khan, the court’s chief prosecutor, has noted that the deportations “demonstrate an intent to permanently remove the (Ukrainian) children from their country.” He added that it is necessary to ensure that children are returned to their families and communities. “We cannot allow them to be treated as if they were the spoils of war,” he has said.

The court is the only permanent instance to judge war crimes and crimes against humanity and genocide. It is also empowered to do so with the crime of aggression – the invasion of Ukraine, in this case – but it hits the same wall: Russia is not one of its member states. Hence, the possibility of creating a special international court to fill this legal vacuum is being considered. The European Parliament supports its establishment. Ukraine is also not a member of the CFI, but has accepted its jurisdiction.

Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.


The content of the arrest warrants is secret to protect the identity of the victims, but the CFI has announced them “in the interest of justice and to prevent the commission of new crimes”, as explained by Hofmanski. In the document, it can be read that Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, born on October 7, 1952, President of Russia, “is allegedly responsible for the war crime of illegal deportation of the population (including children) and illegal transfer of population from the areas occupied from Ukraine to Russia”. The crimes were allegedly committed from at least February 24, 2022 (date of the large-scale invasion). He stresses that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for those crimes. According to the Rome Statute, the founding text of the TPI, the Russian president would be responsible “for having committed the acts directly together with others and/or through others.” And “for not having exercised adequate control over the civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts.” In the case of Commissioner María Lvova-Belova, it is only the first section of the charge.

Maria Lvova-Belova, meeting with Putin, last February in Moscow.
Maria Lvova-Belova, meeting with Putin, last February in Moscow.SPUTNIK (via REUTERS)

The court, which judges only those most responsible for the greatest crimes of international justice, does not have a police force to arrest the people it accuses. It therefore depends on whether its 123 Member States agree to do so. In this case, since it is the president of Russia, international cooperation is especially relevant: if Putin travels abroad, he is exposed to arrest from now on.

Moscow: “outrageous and unacceptable”

Moscow – which denies the accusations of war crimes despite the evidence provided by the Ukrainian government and investigations by the media and human rights organizations – has dismissed the Hague decision. “We consider the very formulation of the issue outrageous and unacceptable,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said on Friday. “Russia, like several states, does not recognize the jurisdiction of this court. Consequently, any such decision is null and void for Russia,” Peskov stressed, according to the Interfax agency.

The decision has generated some disbelief among Russian citizens and outrage in the Kremlin circle, which sees the hand of the United States behind the decision. “Yankees, take your hands off Putin!”, the president of the Russian Parliament, Viacheslav Volodin, has cried on his Telegram channel. “Any attack against the Russian president is an aggression against our country,” he launched.

The forced deportation of the population of an occupied territory by the occupying forces —regardless of age— is prohibited by international justice. In the case of minors, the United Nations Commission for Investigation on Ukraine describes it as a war crime, and points out that there is evidence of these illegal transfers. In the first report prepared by its experts, published this Thursday, it is indicated that Russia grants nationality to deported Ukrainian children and leaves them with foster families “to promote an environment where some can stay permanently.”

Although forced transfers are presumed to be only temporary, “most are prolonged and parents and children have many problems maintaining contact.” Eyewitnesses have told the members of this UN Commission that “the smallest are in danger of permanently losing contact with their parents.” For all these reasons, it is concluded that the forced deportation of Ukrainian children “violates international humanitarian laws and constitutes a war crime.” The Commission has not been able to confirm the figure of 16,221 minors deported, cited by the Ukrainian authorities.

In March 2022, the Ukrainian government already accused Russia of forcibly deporting thousands of people, including children, to its territory. That same year, Amnesty International noted that Russian and Russian-controlled forces “forcibly transferred civilians from occupied Ukraine to areas under Russian control.” During the process, “boys and girls were separated from their families,” in violation of international humanitarian law, according to the NGO. A Washington-backed report by Yale University researchers has revealed that Russia has held at least 6,000 Ukrainian minors in 43 camps and facilities as part of a “large-scale structural network.”

Russia publicly welcomes the program that takes thousands of Ukrainian children from Russia, but disguises it as a humanitarian campaign to protect abandoned or orphaned children in the Ukrainian territories that the Kremlin has occupied. This Friday, the Kremlin commissioner Lvova-Belova has tried to sell her arrest warrant as recognition of her work in an environment of Russophobia. “It is very good that the international community has valued the work to help the children of our country (Moscow has annexed four illegally occupied Ukrainian regions), that we do not leave them in war zones, that we take them out, that we let’s create good conditions, surround them with love, affectionate people”, he said.

Estonia: “One step closer to judgment day”

The arrest warrants against Putin and his head of the child deportation program have generated a cascade of reactions. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas welcomed the Hague decision. “(We are) one step closer to trial. With this step, the TPI sends a history signal. “All the atrocities against Ukraine come from the criminal policy of the Russian leadership (…). It is a reminder that no one goes unpunished, not even heads of state. The Russian regime will have to be held accountable, ”she has assured.

Poland, another of the countries that has provided the most support to Ukraine and which, like the Baltic countries, has been warning against the Kremlin’s imperialist policy for years, has also applauded the passage of the TPI. “Putin should be tried as a war criminal along with others responsible for atrocities in Ukraine,” said the Polish government spokesman.

Follow all the international information on Facebook and Twitteror in our weekly newsletter.

Subscribe to continue reading

Read without limits

Disclaimer: If you need to update/edit/remove this news or article then please contact our support team Learn more

Deborah Acker

I write epic fantasy; self-published via KDP. Devoted dog mom to my 10 yr old GSD, Shadow! DM not a priority; slow response at best #amwriting #author.

Leave a Reply