ICC Issues Arrest Warrant for Russian President Putin on War Crimes Charges

On Friday 19 March 2023, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on charges of war crimes. This marks the first time the ICC has brought charges against the Russian leader and is a direct result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The ICC has accused Putin of responsibility for the war crime of illegal deportation of children from Ukraine.[0] The warrant was issued in view of the situation in Ukraine and calls for Putin’s arrest on suspicion of unlawful deportation of children and unlawful transfer of people from the territory of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.

In a seemingly defiant move, Putin made an unexpected trip to the Russian-occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol shortly after the warrant was issued.[1] He was joined by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, who spoke in detail to Putin about “ongoing construction and restoration work” in the city.[1] Additionally, Maria Lvova-Bielova, the Russian children’s commissioner, has herself described “adopting” a 15-year-old child from Mariupol.[2]

The ICC's arrest warrant of Putin is a reflection of the speed with which the international legal community has pursued allegations of war crimes during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.[3] However, as Russia does not recognize the authority of the ICC, it is unlikely that Putin will stand trial.[0] Nevertheless, the arrest warrant serves as a reminder of the devastating consequences of the war in Ukraine, and the importance of holding those responsible to account.

0. “Putin visits occupied Ukraine, stopping in Crimea and Mariupol” Business Insider, 19 Mar. 2023, https://www.businessinsider.com/putin-visits-occupied-ukraine-stopping-in-crimea-and-mariupol-2023-3

1. “Defiant Putin visits occupied Mariupol, symbol of Ukrainian resistance” CNN, 19 Mar. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/03/19/europe/putin-mariupol-visit-icc-intl-hnk/index.html

2. “Ukrainian Intelligence on ICC decision says that Kremlin already looking for successor to Putin” Yahoo Life, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/hur-icc-decision-kremlin-already-114350621.html

3. “Putin’s alleged war crimes: who are the Ukrainian children being taken by Russia?” The Guardian, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/mar/17/vladimir-putin-war-crimes-icc-arrest-warrant-ukraine-children