ICC Issues Arrest Warrant for Russian President Putin Over War Crimes Allegations

On Friday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and another Russian official involving allegations of war crimes in relation to the unlawful deportation and transfer of children from Ukraine to Russia.[0] The warrant states that there are “reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes” for having committed the acts directly, jointly with others, and for “his failure to exercise control properly over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts.”[1]

The UN-backed inquiry found evidence that Russian authorities committed human rights violations in Ukraine, including “attacks on civilians and energy-related infrastructure, wilful killings, unlawful confinement, torture, rape and other sexual violence, as well as unlawful transfers and deportations of children.”[2] Additionally, an analysis of the ICC’s decision states that “giving orders to commit or tolerating serious crimes against civilians may lead to a prison cell in The Hague.”[3]

The Russian Federation is not affiliated with the Rome Statute, which created the International Criminal Court, and it is unlikely that either Putin or Lvova-Belova will ever be surrendered for trial.[4] The Kremlin has also previously stated that it does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC.[5]

A remarkable international criticism of Putin has been manifested through the issuance of an arrest warrant, despite the extreme unlikelihood of him being brought before an international court of justice.[6] Experts in international law state that issuing an arrest warrant and making it public is an effective way of publicly shaming a person who is being investigated globally, and it serves as a warning to other countries regarding their interactions with that person.[7]

The International Criminal Court declared that since the abduction of Ukrainian minors to Russia was still occurring, they felt obligated to make the warrants public in order to try to stop further criminal activity.[7] This is the first instance in which the ICC has released warrants in connection to Russia's extensive incursion into Ukraine, commencing in February of last year.[8] Prior to Chinese President Xi Jinping's trip to Russia next week, the move will significantly reduce the scope of President Putin's diplomatic visits.[9]

0. “ICC judges issue arrest warrant for Putin, accuse leader of war crimes” USA TODAY, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2023/03/17/icc-issues-war-crimes-arrest-warrant-russias-vladimir-putin/11491711002/

1. “ICC issues war crime arrest warrant for Putin: Live updates” CNN, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/europe/live-news/russia-ukraine-war-news-03-17-23/h_bc63bc10f78dc1d2d7b3df7144d61dd2

2. “Russia-Ukraine war news: Finland and Turkey discuss NATO bid” The Washington Post, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/03/17/russia-ukraine-war-news/

3. “ICC judges issue arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin over alleged war crimes” The Guardian, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/mar/17/vladimir-putin-arrest-warrant-ukraine-war-crimes

4. “The International Criminal Court Issued An Arrest Warrant For Vladimir Putin Over His Invasion Of Ukraine” BuzzFeed News, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/davidmack/icc-vladimir-putin-arrest-warrant-war-crimes

5. “Arrest warrants for Putin, Russian officials issued by ICC over Ukraine invasion” Axios, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.axios.com/2023/03/17/icc-war-crimes-cases-russia-ukraine

6. “ICC issues arrest warrant for Putin over alleged war crime of ‘unlawful’ deportation of Ukrainian children” The Hill, 17 Mar. 2023, https://thehill.com/policy/international/3905286-icc-issues-arrest-warrant-for-putin-over-alleged-war-crime-of-unlawful-deportation-of-ukrainian-children/

7. “ICC issues arrest warrant for Putin over alleged war crime of ‘unlawful' deportation of Ukrainian children” Yahoo! Voices, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/news/icc-issues-arrest-warrant-putin-154807010.html

8. “Forced deportations of Ukranian children to Russia explained” Euronews, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.euronews.com/2023/03/14/international-criminal-court-prepares-to-issue-first-arrest-warrants-for-ukraine-war-crime

9. “ICC issues arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin over child deportations from Ukraine” POLITICO Europe, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/icc-arrest-warrant-vladimir-putin-war-crimes-ukraine