Zelenskyi praises “historic” decision to issue arrest warrant for Putin

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has welcomed the “historic” decision by the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin.

Yesterday, the Hague-based ICC announced that it had issued the arrest warrant for the Russian leader over the alleged kidnapping and deportation of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia.

The charges were immediately dismissed as “legally void” by the Kremlin – which does not recognize the ICC.

But human rights groups have said the move effectively makes Putin a “wanted man.”

Zelenskyy's reaction to the ICC's arrest warrant for Putin

Zelenskyy praised the International Criminal Court’s decision to arrest Vladimir Putin: (Image: Office of the President of Ukraine)

In his nightly address to the nation, Zelenskyy praised the move, calling it a “historic decision from which historic responsibility begins.”

“Today we have a landmark decision by the international judiciary. In a case that has real prospects, the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Putin,” he said.

“The head of the terrorist state and another Russian official have been officially suspected of war crimes. Deportation of Ukrainian children – illegal transfer of thousands of our children to the territory of the terrorist state.

“More than 16,000 cases of forced deportation of Ukrainian children by the occupiers have already been registered in criminal cases investigated by our law enforcement officers.

“But the actual total number of deportees could be much higher.”

He added: “It would be impossible to commit such a criminal operation without the orders of the supreme leader of the terrorist state.

“Separating children from their families, depriving them of any opportunity to contact their relatives, hiding children on the territory of Russia, throwing them to remote regions – all this is obvious state policy of Russia, state decisions and state Bad. Which exactly begins with the chief official of this state.’

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting via videoconference on Friday, March 17, 2023 in Moscow, Russia. (Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

The ICC wants to arrest Vladimir Putin for war crimes in Ukraine (Image: AP)

Russian Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights Maria Lvova-Belova speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday February 16, 2023. (Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Putin’s Minister of Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova is also wanted by the ICC in Russia for her role in kidnapping children from Ukraine (Image: AP)

The arrest warrants for Mr Putin and another for Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, relate to the alleged trafficking of children across the border into Russia.

ICC President Piotr Hofmanksi said: “International law prohibits occupying powers from relocating civilians from the area where they live to other areas.

“Children enjoy special protection under the Geneva Convention.”

According to Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide (CPPCG), “the forcible transfer of children from the group to another group” is genocide.

US President Joe Biden said Mr Putin “clearly committed war crimes” and that the warrant, while not recognized in the US, was “justified” and “a very strong point”.

His comments came after British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said it was important that regime leaders in Moscow be held accountable for the atrocities that have taken place since the invasion a year ago.

In a statement released on social media, Mr Cleverly said: “Those responsible for horrific war crimes in Ukraine must be brought to justice.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 24: Britain's Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs James Cleverly speaks during a Security Council meeting on the war in Ukraine at the United Nations Headquarters on February 24, 2023 in New York City. Blinken was one of the international officials attending the Security Council meeting marking the year-long Russian invasion of Ukraine. On Thursday, the UN General Assembly passed a cessation of hostilities in Ukraine and the immediate withdrawal of Russia by a vote of 141 to 7 with 32 abstentions. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has welcomed the ICC’s decision to prosecute Putin, and several other British politicians have also expressed their support (Image: Getty)

“We welcome the move by the independent ICC to hold the leadership of the Russian regime, including Vladimir Putin, accountable.

“The work must continue to investigate the atrocities committed.”

Union leader Sir Keir Starmer, a former head of the public prosecutor’s office, also backed the move.

“Today’s announcement sends an important message: there will be no hiding place for Putin and his cronies, and the world is determined to make them pay for what they did,” he said.

“These cases are just the tip of the iceberg. One day Putin will be brought to justice: until then, the focus of all who believe in Ukraine’s freedom must remain on ensuring their victory.”

While there is no immediate prospect of Mr Putin’s arrest, legal experts have pointed to the examples of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic and Liberian President Charles Taylor as international leaders who ended up in the dock at The Hague.

Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was also ousted and assassinated by his own people just four months after he was issued with an arrest warrant by the ICC – footage of which reportedly left a strong and momentous impression on Putin.

Dominic Raab, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Justice, told the BBC: “It’s going to be a long journey, I suppose, but people said it was about Yugoslavia and Rwanda and many of those responsible for the slaughter ended up in the dock of a court .

“In the short term it will be very difficult for President Putin to move around the world because there are so many countries that are parties to the International Criminal Court that will be obliged to arrest him.”

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https://metro.co.uk/2023/03/18/zelensky-praises-historic-decision-to-issue-arrest-warrant-for-putin-18464349/ Zelenskyi praises "historic" decision to issue arrest warrant for Putin

Justin Scaccy

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