The International Criminal Court in the Hague made a bold move by issuing an arrest warrant for Russian leader Vladimir Putin, a development that comes as the war in Ukraine enters its second year with no end in sight and one that was met with approval by President Joe Biden.
On Friday, the international body issued the rare warrant for a world leader, accusing the kingpin of the Kremlin of war crimes including the alleged abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.
The ICC said in a statement that Putin “is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes,” the court said.
Biden opined that the arrest warrant was “justified” during a brief exchange with reporters as he was leaving Washington, D.C. for his latest weekend stay in Delaware, a location where the 80-year-old leader has spent a disproportionate amount of time during his White House tenure.
“Well, I think it’s justified,” Biden said. “But the question is, it’s not recognized internationally by us, either. But I think it makes a very strong point.”
(Video: The Daily Mail)
When pressed on whether the villainous Russian strongman should be tried for war crimes, Biden ducked giving a direct answer but said that Putin has “clearly committed war crimes.”
The ICC’s warrant is historically significant in that it “was the first time the global court has issued a warrant against a leader of one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council,” the Associated Press reported.
The dramatic move drew predictable condemnation from the Russian government.
“We consider the very posing of the question outrageous and unacceptable,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Friday. “Russia, like a number of states, does not recognize the jurisdiction of this court and, accordingly, any decisions of this kind are null and void for the Russian Federation from the point of view of law.”
The warrant was welcome news to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who called it a “historic decision, from which historic responsibility will begin.”
International Criminal Court issues warrant of arrest for Putin. The historic decision, from which historical responsibility will begin. pic.twitter.com/cUW0WbeGKJ
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 17, 2023
Others reacted to the move by the Netherlands-based court.
“The decision by the ICC to issue an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin is a giant step in the right direction for the international community,” tweeted Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who recently called for shooting down Russian planes over Ukraine. “It is more than justified by the evidence.”
The decision by the ICC to issue an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin is a giant step in the right direction for the international community.
It is more than justified by the evidence. https://t.co/uHdbiyFPLR
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) March 17, 2023
Retired Army Lt. Colonel, former National Security Council Director for European Affairs, and Trump impeachment figure Alexander Vindman said that while Putin may not be imprisoned, he expressed optimism that the warrant could pressure Republican lawmakers who don’t express total fealty to Zelenskyy and Ukraine to fall in line.
Domestically, this makes it much harder for isolationists and Putin apologists in Congress to grow their ranks. I'm under no illusion they'll turn on Putin. But, again, war crimes against children isn't going to win you many (any) additional votes.
— Alexander S. Vindman (@AVindman) March 17, 2023
“Domestically, this makes it much harder for isolationists and Putin apologists in Congress to grow their ranks. I’m under no illusion they’ll turn on Putin. But, again, war crimes against children isn’t going to win you many (any) additional votes,” Vindman wrote on Twitter.
“I said at the Security Council meeting that there is no purgatory for war criminals, they go straight to hell,” said Ukraine’s U.N. ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya, recalling the night that Putin’s tanks rolled into his country. “Today, I would like to say that those of them who will remain alive after the military defeat of Russia will have to make a stop in The Hague on their way to hell.”
“It’s unlikely that either of the cases will make it to trial, since the ICC cannot conduct a trial unless the relevant people are in custody, and Russia is unlikely to turn over its own people over,” Axios predicted after the news broke.
The warrant comes as Putin is set to welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping to Moscow for talks next week, a meeting that comes at a time of heightened tensions between the U.S. and its two top global adversaries.
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