(CNN) The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian official Maria Lvova-Belova for an alleged scheme to deport Ukrainian children to Russia.
The court said there “are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility” for the alleged crimes, for having committed them directly alongside others, and for “his failure to exercise control properly over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts.”
The ICC charges, which relate to an alleged practice that CNN and others have reported on, are the first to be formally lodged against officials in Moscow since it began its unprovoked attack on Ukraine last year.
The Kremlin has labeled the ICC’s actions as “outrageous and unacceptable.”
“We consider the very posing of the question outrageous and unacceptable. 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,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tweeted on Friday.
But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the ICC for its “historic” decision, saying in his nightly address on Friday that Ukraine’s investigations also suggest the Kremlin had direct involvement in the forced deportation of children into Russia.
“In the criminal proceedings being investigated by our law enforcement officers, more than 16,000 forced deportations of Ukrainian children by the occupier have already been recorded. But the real, full number of deportees may be much higher,” he said. “Such a criminal operation would have been impossible without the order of the highest leader of the terrorist state.”
The message from Friday’s warrants “must be that basic principles of humanity bind everybody,” Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan said in an exclusive interview with CNN later on Friday.
“Nobody should feel they have a free pass. Nobody should feel they can enact with abandon. And definitely nobody should feel they can act and commit genocide or…
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