Biden says Putin committed war crimes, charges are 'justified'

US President Joe Biden (above) says the ICC's arrest warrant for Russian leader Vladimir Putin "makes a very strong point". PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON - US President Joe Biden said on Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has committed war crimes and the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to issue an arrest warrant for him was justified.

The ICC earlier on Friday called for Mr Putin’s arrest on suspicion of unlawful deportation of children and unlawful transfer of people from Ukraine to Russia since Moscow’s invasion began of its neighbour in 2022. The United States is not a member of the ICC.

“Well, I think it’s justified. But the question is – it’s not recognised internationally by us either. But I think it makes a very strong point,” Mr Biden told reporters.

The US separately has concluded that Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine and supports accountability for perpetrators of war crimes, a State Department spokesman said in an e-mailed 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,” the spokesman added. “This was a decision the ICC prosecutor reached independently based on the facts before him.”

The ICC move obligates the court’s 123 member states to arrest Mr Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot on their territory. The ICC also issued a warrant for Ms Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, on the same charges.

A US-backed report by Yale University researchers in February said Russia has held at least 6,000 Ukrainian children in at least 43 camps and other facilities as part of a “large-scale systematic network”.

Russia has denied accusations that its forces have committed atrocities during its invasion. The Kremlin said on Friday the ICC arrest warrant against Mr Putin was outrageous, and meaningless with respect to Russia. REUTERS

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