An arrest warrant has been issued for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin on the grounds that he has committed war crimes in his invasion of Ukraine.
Specifically, the alleged abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children is the central named criminal act, and Putin is accused of both committing the acts directly and working with others to do so.
The Hague has been considering the evidence against Putin throughout the invasion and announced an investigation over a year ago.
Over recent months, though, there have been new reports of Russia setting up child custody centers for holding thousands of Ukrainian children, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) is acting.
Russia is hardly likely to extradite its leader and has already released statements dismissing the arrest warrant as meaningless, since the ICC doesn’t actually have the authority to carry out an arrest in nations that have not agreed to the conditions.
However, even as a symbolic step, the warrant is a significant statement of global sentiment regarding Putin’s actions.
The warrant could also limit Putin’s travel, since he could be arrested if he appears in a country that does cooperate with the ICC.
An additional warrant has been issued for Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova. From the New York Times:
“This is a big day for the many victims of crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine since 2014,” said Balkees Jarrah, the associate director for international justice at Human Rights Watch. “With these arrest warrants, the I.C.C. has made Putin a wanted man and taken its first step to end the impunity that has emboldened perpetrators in Russia’s war against Ukraine for far too long.”
A report on the child deportations earlier this year asserted that thousands of children are being removed from Ukraine and trafficked through Russia without parental consent, noting that Russia has not denied taking children and handing them out to Russian families, but has tried to brand the move as a humanitarian one, claiming that the children in question are orphaned or abandoned, according to NPR.
Even as early as October of 2022, orphanage staff in Ukraine said that they had hidden children from occupying forces, even moving children to the homes of staff members to protect them, the Washington Post reported.