- By Antoinette Radford
- BBC news
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The court says he is responsible for war crimes, including the unlawful deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia.
It says the crimes were committed in Ukraine at least from February 24, 2022, when Russia launched its full-scale invasion.
Moscow has denied allegations of war crimes committed during the invasion.
The ICC has accused Putin of involvement in the deportation of children, saying it has reasonable grounds to believe that he committed the acts directly and also collaborated with others.
The court also said the Russian leader was not exercising his rights to stop others deporting children.
The Russian Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, is also wanted by the ICC.
A spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry has said the arrest warrants are meaningless.
“The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, not even from a legal point of view,” Maria Zakharova said on Thursday, when it became known that the arrest warrants had been issued.
That’s because despite the orders, the ICC has no authority to arrest suspects and can only exercise jurisdiction within countries that have signed the ICC.
Russia is not a signatory, so it is unlikely that either will be extradited.
That message was echoed by Ms Zakharova, who said: “Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and bears no obligations under it.”
Russian opposition leaders welcomed the announcement, with imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s close ally Ivan Zhdanov shouting “wow!” tweeted.
“An arrest warrant for Putin! Yes, a symbolic step. But how important is it!” Mr. Zhdanov wrote.
Ukrainian Attorney General Andriy Kostin said the decision was “historic for Ukraine and the entire international justice system”, while Ukraine’s Presidential Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak praised the decision as “just the beginning”.