‘Wheels of justice are turning’: Reaction to ICC’s arrest warrant for Russia’s Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin is accused of the war crime of illegal deportation of children from Ukraine. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON - Following are reactions to the news on Friday that the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of the war crime of illegal deportation of children from Ukraine.

The court also issued a warrant for Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, on the same charges.

ICC statement on the charge accusing Putin

“The crimes were allegedly committed in Ukrainian occupied territory at least from Feb 24, 2022. There are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

“This is a historic decision which will lead to historic accountability. The head of the terrorist state and another official have officially become suspects in a war crimes case.

“In criminal cases that are being investigated by our law enforcement there are more than 16,000 instances of forcible deportation of Ukrainian children by occupiers. But the real, complete number of deported could be much larger. It would have been impossible to enact such a criminal operation without the say-so of the man at the helm of the terrorist state.

“To part children from their families, to prevent them from contacting their relatives, to hide children on the territory of Russia, to disseminate them around far-flung regions is clearly state policy of Russia, state decisions and state evil, which starts precisely with the top official of this state.” 

Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Andriy Kostin

“This is a historic decision for Ukraine and the entire international law system. Today’s decision is a historic step. But it is only the beginning of the long road to restore justice.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba

“Wheels of Justice are turning: I applaud the ICC decision to issue arrest warrants for Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova over forcible transfer of Ukrainian children. International criminals will be held accountable for stealing children and other international crimes.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov

Mr Peskov said Russia found the very questions raised by the ICC “outrageous and unacceptable”, but noted that Russia, like many other countries, did not recognise the jurisdiction of the ICC.

“And accordingly, any decisions of this kind are null and void for the Russian Federation from the point of view of law.”

Asked if Putin now feared travelling to countries that recognised the ICC and might therefore try to arrest him, Mr Peskov told reporters: “I have nothing to add on this subject. That’s all we want to say.”

Russian Parliament Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin

“Yankees, hands off Putin!” the close Putin ally said on Telegram, calling the move evidence of Western “hysteria”.

“We regard any attacks on the President of the Russian Federation as aggression against our country,” he said.

Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

“The world changed. The ICC issued an arrest warrant for ‘strategist’ Putin. It’s a clear signal to RU elites of what will happen to them & why it won’t be ‘as before’. It’s the beginning of RF’s end in its current form on the world stage. It’s a clear legal procedure. Just wait.”

In a video commentary later, Mr Podolyak added:

“First, this is a symbol, a symbolic decision of Europe’s political elites. Second, it is important for Russian political elites who received a certain signal that there will be no return to the prewar state of things.”

Additionally, he said, “it is another legal approach as to how the Russian Federation’s actions in Ukraine should be seen and what kind of consequences await the Russian Federation. Fourth, and unconditionally, there is no longer any untouchable status for Putin; there is no longer any fear of Putin.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

“The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view. Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and bears no obligations under it.”

“Who would have thought 15 years ago that in the West taking care of children, saving them and helping them would become a criminal offence.”

Russia’s children’s commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, quoted by Ria Novosti news agency

“It’s great that the international community has appreciated this work to help the children of our country: that we don’t leave them in war zones, that we take them out, that we create good conditions for them, that we surround them with loving, caring people.”

“All this is very strange. It seems to me that this is clear confirmation that when you have no other way to intimidate a country, you come up with something absolutely fantastic ... Like little children, when they can do nothing else, they just show their fist from somewhere far away.”

 An ICC warrant was also issued for Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights. PHOTO: REUTERS

Vladimir Milov, an ally of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny

“Lock him up!”

Leonid Volkov, another ally of Navalny

“Yes, it’s a symbolic step. But what an important one! P.S. If you meet Putin, feel free to detain him and deliver him to the court!”

High representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell

“The decision of the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin for the war crime of unlawful deportation and transfer of children from Ukraine to Russia is the start of the process of accountability. We appreciate and support ICC’s work. There can be no impunity”.

Stephen Rapp, US Ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues under former president Barack Obama

“This makes Putin a pariah. If he travels he risks arrest. This never goes away. Russia cannot gain relief from sanctions without compliance with the warrants.”

Polish government spokesman Piotr Muller

“This is an important decision from the court, which points to war crimes committed by the Russian apparatus of violence... Vladimir Putin is at the head of this machine and should be tried as a war criminal along with those who directly and indirectly implement barbaric warfare.”

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky

“Putin is undoubtedly responsible for war crimes and he should be put to trial for the crime of aggression. I welcome the decision of the International Criminal Court.” REUTERS

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