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International Criminal Court Issues Arrest Warrants for Putin and Lvova-Belova

2023-05-25 01:41:04 Hoseok (Chris) Ahn

[St. Basil's Cathedral is a famous landmark for Moscow. Photo Credit to PxHere]

On March 17th, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for Vladimir Putin, the Russian President and Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian Commissioner for Children's Rights. 

This marks the third time in the history of the ICC that a warrant has been issued against a head of state, and the first time that the head of state is a leader of a country that is a UN Security Council member nation.

According to ICC President Piotr Hofmański, the court's grounds for issuing the arrest warrants against Putin and Lvova-Belova were based on Russia's illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. 

Since the start of the Russo-Ukrainian War, Russian forces have captured 16,226 Ukrainian children and forcibly taken them to Russian soil. 

They have also publicized the deportations as a rescue of Ukrainians from their supposedly fascist government.

Under the ICC's definition, this constitutes a war crime,  giving the court authority to issue arrest warrants.

The ICC's decision has been met with objections from Russian officials. 

Russian Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov has publicly denounced the arrest warrants as "outrageous and unacceptable." 

He said, "Russia, as well as several other states, do not recognize the jurisdiction of this court and, accordingly, any decisions of this kind are null and void for Russia in terms of law."

Lvova-Belova, who is now an alleged criminal, has dismissed the arrest warrants with scorn. 

She said, "It is great that the international community has appreciated the work to help the children of our country."

Despite the objections from Russian officials, Ukrainians have welcomed the ICC's decision as a just and necessary action. 

Olga Lopatkina, a Ukrainian mother whose children were seized and deported, said that Putin and Lvova-Belova "must be punished for their crimes." 

Similarly, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised the arrest warrants as a "historic decision, from which historic responsibility will begin."

Other members of the global community have also expressed support for the ICC's resolution. 

US President Joe Biden commented on the ICC’s arrest warrants saying, "I think it's justified." 

Although the US does not officially recognize the authority of the ICC, Biden did not hesitate to say that its arrest warrants "[make] a very strong point."

Unfortunately for the victims of the child deportations, the arrest warrants are not likely to result in the arrest of Putin and Lvova-Belova. 

As a court, the ICC can only issue arrest warrants. 

This means that capturing the guilty individuals depends solely on the cooperation of the international community.

It is highly unlikely that the international community will be able to capture Putin and Lvova-Belova. 

Many experts claim that no country would be able to successfully intervene in Russia to voluntarily arrest the two, as doing so would lead to undesirable military conflicts.

Hence, it is unlikely that the arrest warrants will  result in the arrest of Putin and Lvova-Belova. 

However, they may provide an effective source of criticism for Putin and Lvova-Belova. 

By attempting to arrest the two, the ICC may sway public opinion against Russia's war crimes. 

Moreover, Putin's warrant of arrest is likely to prevent him from participating in global summits to justify or advocate for his criminal activities in Ukraine.

Hoseok (Chris) Ahn / Grade 11
Asia Pacific International School