The International Criminal Court (ICC) in Hague has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over alleged war crimes in Ukraine, including overseeing the abduction of Ukrainian children. However, Moscow dismissed the move saying it was meaningless.
In a statement, the court said the warrant was issued over Putin’s suspected involvement in the unlawful deportation and transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.
A panel of judges agreed that there were “reasonable grounds” to believe Putin and his children’s rights commissioner, Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, bore responsibility for the “unlawful deportation” of Ukrainian children.
The warrants are the first to be issued by the ICC for crimes committed in connection with the Ukraine war. It is one of the rare occasions when the court issued a warrant against a sitting head of state, putting Putin alongside Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir.
Gaddafi was toppled and killed months after his warrant was announced. Bashir was also ousted and is currently in jail in Sudan, though he has yet to be transferred to The Hague.
The ICC has no powers to enforce its own warrants. Russia denies committing atrocities since it invaded Ukraine in February last year. Russia rejected the ICC’s move as null and void.
“The decisions of the ICC have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.