ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said Putin was now liable to arrest if he set foot in any of the court’s more than 120 member states.
Russia is not a party to the ICC, so it was unclear whether Putin could ever appear in the dock. India is also not a member of ICC. Putin is expected to travel to New Delhi later in the year for the G20 world leaders’ summit.
The Hague-based ICC said it had also issued a warrant against Russia’s presidential commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, on similar charges.
Meanwhile, war-torn Ukraine welcomed the ICC’s announcement, with President Volodymyr Zelensky hailing the “historic decision”.
Here’s everything you need to know about the case:
What is ICC?
The International Criminal Court was established in 2002 to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and crimes of aggression when member states are unwilling or unable to do so on their own.
The tribunal is based in The Hague, Netherlands, and conducts high-profile investigations of prime suspects.
It can prosecute crimes committed by nationals of member states or by other actors on the territory of member states. It has 123 member countries.
What crimes is Putin accused of?
Both Putin and Lvova-Belova are accused of being responsible for the war crime of illegal deportation of people, especially children, and their illegal transfer from the occupied territories of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.
Citing a report by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry, the BBC reported that some of these children were forced to take Russian citizenship and were placed in foster families, leading to their “permanent” stay in Russia. From” remained.
If further stated that the transfers were temporary but that both parents and children faced “an array of barriers to establishing contact”. According to UN investigators, 16,221 children were forcibly taken to Russia.
The ICC said there are reasonable grounds to believe that Putin “bears personal responsibility for the crimes committed either directly, jointly with others and/or through others”.
It also said that Putin failed to exercise proper control over civilian and military subordinates who committed or permitted the commission of the acts and who were under his effective authority and control.
The arrest warrant obliges member states to arrest Putin or Lvova-Belova if they visit their country. However, the ICC has no police force or other methods of its own to enforce the arrest.
Can Putin be prosecuted?
The arrest warrant is theoretically the first step towards an eventual trial – although under the current circumstances, the capture and indictment of Russia’s president is almost unthinkable.
The Russian president enjoys undeniable power in his homeland, so there is no prospect of the Kremlin handing him over to the ICC. As long as he is in Russia, Putin is in no danger of being arrested.
Even if arrests were made, past ICC cases have shown that it is difficult to convict even the most senior officials. Over 20 years, the court has produced only five convictions for major crimes, and none were for a top official.
But ICC scrutiny of international statistics is not the only option. War crimes can also be tried in Ukraine’s own courts, and a large number of countries are conducting their own investigations.
There are also plans to create a new tribunal to try the Russian invasion as a crime of aggression. ICC cannot make such an allegation due to legal constraints.
What is Russia’s response?
Russia, which denies having committed atrocities since invading Ukraine, rejected the ICC’s move as “invalid and void”.
“The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on her Telegram channel.
“Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and has no obligations under it,” she wrote.
What is the stand of ICC?
ICC President Piotr Hoffmannsky said it was “completely irrelevant” that Russia had not ratified the Rome Statute.
“According to ICC statute, which has 123 state parties, accounting for two-thirds of the entire international community, the court has jurisdiction over crimes committed in the territory of a state party or a state which has accepted its jurisdiction is,” he said. “Ukraine has acceded to the ICC twice – in 2014 and again in 2015.”
Hoffmansky said that 43 states had “referred the situation in Ukraine to the court, which means they have formally triggered our jurisdiction”.
“Since November 2013 the court has jurisdiction over crimes committed against anyone on the territory of Ukraine, regardless of the nationality of the alleged perpetrators,” Hoffmansky said.
What is Ukraine’s reaction to the notice?
Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andrey Kostin praised the announcement by the ICC.
“The world received a signal that the Russian regime is criminal and its leadership and operatives will be held accountable,” he said. “This is a historic decision for Ukraine and the entire system of international law.”
What are the war crimes allegedly committed by Russia?
A UN panel of investigators said the Russians were responsible for attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, in addition to rape and torture.
It also highlights mass burial sites – at Bucha and Izyum (in Kharkiv) – accusing Russia of a more serious “crime against humanity”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is also accused of 400 war crimes committed by the Russians in the Kherson region alone.
(with inputs from agencies)
Watch International Criminal Court issues arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin