The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of committing war crimes in Ukraine. The move follows a year-long investigation by ICC prosecutor Karim Khan who visited Ukraine four times to gather evidence.
Britain and I welcomed the ICC’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Mr. Putin. Legal experts say it marks a “significant, rare step” requesting the arrest of a sitting world leader.
A UK government spokesperson said the move was a “big win” that would hold Putin to account. However, foreign Secretary James Cleverly said he wanted to see further investigation into the crimes committed by those at the top of the Russian regime.
British Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also welcomed the move, saying it was an essential first step towards holding those at the top of Russian politics to account for the atrocities that have taken place in Ukraine. He called it an “important milestone in the fight against impunity.”
EU representative for foreign affairs Josep Borrell said he welcomed the ICC’s action, calling it “just the beginning” of holding Russia accountable for its actions in Ukraine. The EU has previously criticized Russia’s military action in Ukraine.
Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said the ICC’s decision sends a message that there will be no hiding place for leaders of Russia’s ilk, and added: “The wheels of justice are turning.”
Law professor David Crane, who indicted Liberian president Charles Taylor 20 years ago for crimes in Sierra Leone, said that dictators and tyrants worldwide are now on notice that those who commit international crimes will be held accountable, including heads of state.
In The Hague, the ICC‘s chief prosecutor Karim Khan said it was a “historic day” for international justice. He said the court had “reasonable grounds to believe” that Mr. Putin was liable to be charged with unlawful deportation and the crime of unlawful transfer of population.
The ICC has issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, accused of war crimes over the transfer of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia from areas under Moscow’s control since the Russian invasion in February 2022.
The ICC said in a statement on Friday afternoon that Putin’s arrest is expected to occur within a month. The arrests were issued after a year-long investigation by ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan, who had visited Ukraine several times to gather evidence of potential crimes.
Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has praised the ICC’s decision, saying it’s an essential first step towards holding those at the head of Russian politics to account for the atrocities in Ukraine. He has said the Russian government is responsible for the forced transfers of children from Ukrainian regions to Russia and that Russia’s military actions in Ukraine are illegal.
The Russian government, however, rejected the ICC’s findings as “outrageous” and said it does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction. A Kremlin spokesman on Friday said that any decisions of the ICC were null and void from the point of view of Russia’s law.