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ICC issues arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin in connection with Ukraine war

The International Criminal Court on Friday issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, charging him with illegally transferring children from Ukraine to Russia. Photo by Kremlin Pool /UPI
1 of 2 | The International Criminal Court on Friday issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, charging him with illegally transferring children from Ukraine to Russia. Photo by Kremlin Pool /UPI | License Photo

March 17 (UPI) -- The International Criminal Court on Friday issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and children's commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova for illegally transferring children from Ukraine to Russia.

The court, which is not recognized by Russia and the United States, said it believes Putin bears responsibility for forcibly deporting children from Ukraine to Russia since the start of the invasion of the country more than a year ago.

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Lvova-Belova, the commissioner for Russia Children's Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, is also the blame for the transfer, the ICC said.

"It is forbidden by international law for occupying powers to transfer civilians from the territory they live in to other territories," ICC President Piotr Hofmanski said in a video statement. "Children enjoy special protection under the Geneva Convention."

Hofmanski said the contents of the warrants remain secret in order to protect the victims but noted the judges of the chamber decided to make the existence of the warrants public "in the interest of justice" and to prevent future crimes.

"This is an important moment in the process of justice before the ICC," he said. "The judges have reviewed the information and evidence submitted by the prosecutor and determined that there are credible allegations against these persons for their alleged crimes."

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The ICC, located in The Hague in the Netherlands, said on Tuesday it was pursuing war crimes charges against Russia in connection with the Ukrainian invasion, prompting an immediate rebuke from Moscow officials who said the Kremlin did not recognize the tribunal.

A report said at the time that the charges would center around abducting Ukrainian children and willfully targeting civilian infrastructure throughout the conflict.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed possible charges, saying the ICC lacked its reach.

"We don't recognize this court, and we don't recognize the court's jurisdiction," Peskov said then. "This is how we feel about it."

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