The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants Friday for Russian President Vladimir Putin and another Russian official in connection with the war in Ukraine.
Putin and Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, the Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, are “allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation,” according to a statement released by the court.
In a video shared Friday, court president Piotr Hofmanski said enforcement of the warrants will depend on “international cooperation.” The ICC has no power to arrest suspects and Russia is not a signatory to the agreement that set up the court, according to BBC News.
In a statement posted on Telegram, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said, “The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view.”
“Russia does not cooperate with this body, and possible ‘recipes’ for arrest coming from the International Court of Justice will be legally null and void for us,” she said.
Hofmanski said that the contents of the warrants announced Friday remain secret in order to protect victims, though the existence of the warrants was made public “in the interest of justice and to prevent the commission of future crimes.”
“The judges have reviewed the information and evidence submitted by the prosecutor and determined that there are credible allegations against these persons for the alleged crimes,” he said.
International law bars occupying powers from transferring civilians to another territory from the areas they live in, and children get special protections, Hofmanski said.
An investigation published last month by The Associated Press found that Russian officials have deported Ukrainian children to Russia or Russia-held territories without consent and given them Russian families and citizenship. The children, who have also been used for propaganda, have been told that their parents didn’t want them, the AP reported.
Ukrainian and Russian officials have said that hundreds of thousands of children have been moved from Ukraine to Russia since the start of the Russian invasion of the country in February 2022, according to the United Nations. In a report issued Thursday, the U.N.’s Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine said the affected children included some “who lost parents or temporarily lost contact with them during hostilities; who were separated following the detention of a parent at a filtration point; and children in institutions.”
The commission said the transfers “amount to a war crime.”
Russia has denied allegations that its forces have committed atrocities during its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, according to Reuters.
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