President Joe Biden has thrown his support behind the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin who he believes has ‘committed war crimes.’
‘Well, I think it’s justified. But the question is – it’s not recognized internationally by us either. But I think it makes a very strong point,’ Biden told reporters gathered on the south lawn of the White House on Friday. ‘He’s clearly committed war crimes’, he later added.
The ICC earlier on Friday called for Putin’s arrest on suspicion of unlawful deportation of children and unlawful transfer of people from Ukraine to Russia since Moscow’s invasion began of its neighbor last year. The U.S is not a member of the ICC.
The U.S separately concluded that Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine and supports accountability for perpetrators of war crimes, a State Department spokesperson said.
President Joe Biden said he believes the decision by the International Criminal Court in The Hague to charge Putin was ‘justified’
The ICC move obligates the court’s 123 member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot on their territory
‘There is no doubt that Russia is committing war crimes and atrocities (in) Ukraine, and we have been clear that those responsible must be held accountable,’ they added.
‘This was a decision the ICC prosecutor reached independently based on the facts before him.’
The ICC move obligates the court’s 123 member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot on their territory.
The ICC also issued a warrant on Friday for Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, on the same charges.
The court’s shock notice came hours after other news with the potential to significantly impact Russia’s war on Ukraine, including a Moscow visit from Chinese leader Xi Jinping and more fighter jets for Kyiv’s forces.
The Chinese leader will be in Russia next week to sign accords ushering in a new era of ties.
The United States has accused China of mulling arms shipments to support Russia’s campaign, claims Beijing has strongly denied.
A U.S.-backed report by Yale University researchers last month said Russia has held at least 6,000 Ukrainian children in at least 43 camps and other facilities as part of a ‘large-scale systematic network.’
Speaking to reporters as he left the White House for his Delaware home, he said Putin ‘clearly committed war crimes’
Residents are seen outside of damaged buildings with a cat as Russia-Ukraine war continues in Mariupol’s Russian controlled territory of Ukraine
A Ukrainian police officer takes cover in front of a burning building that was hit in a Russian airstrike in Avdiivka, Ukraine, on Friday
Ukrainian soldiers install an anti-tank missile systems ‘Stugna’ near Bakhmut, in the Donetsk region, of Ukraine on Friday
More than 16,000 Ukrainian children have been deported to Russia since the February 24, 2022 invasion, according to Kyiv, with many allegedly placed in institutions and foster homes.
Russia has denied accusations that its forces have committed atrocities during its invasion.
Moscow dismissed the orders as ‘void.’ The Kremlin said on Friday the ICC arrest warrant against Putin was outrageous, but meaningless with respect to Russia.
‘Russia, just like a number of different countries, does not recognize the jurisdiction of this court and so from a legal point of view, the decisions of this court are void,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev compared the warrants to toilet paper, while foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said they ‘have no meaning’ for Russia.
War-battered Ukraine welcomed the ICC announcement, with President Volodymyr Zelensky hailing the ‘historic decision.’
ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said that Putin was now liable for arrest if he set foot in any of the court’s more than 120 member states.
He said the arrest warrants were ‘based upon forensic evidence, scrutiny and what’s been said by those two individuals’.
‘The evidence we presented focused on crimes against children. Children are the most vulnerable part of our society,’ said Khan.
The ICC said judges found there were ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect Putin’s criminal responsibility and grant Khan’s application for the warrants, which were made back on February 22.
The ICC called for Putin’s arrest as the court accused the despot of unlawfully abducting Ukrainian children from their homes and deporting them to Russia to be given to Russian families. Pictured: Ukrainian children onboard a train from Ukraine’s Donbas region to Russia on February 22, 2022
President Xi will visit Russia from Monday in an apparent show of support for Russian President Putin amid sharpening east-west tensions over the conflict in Ukraine
The ICC also issued a warrant for the arrest of Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova (pictured with Putin in February), Russia’s ‘Children’s Rights Commissioner’, on similar allegations
ICC President Piotr Hofmanski said the execution of the warrants ‘depends on international cooperation’.
During a meeting with Putin in mid-February, Lvova-Belova said she adopted a 15-year-old child from the devastated Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.
‘Now I know what it means to be a mother of a child from Donbas — it is a difficult job but we love each other, that is for sure,’ she told Putin.
She added that ‘we evacuated children’s homes into safe areas, arranged rehabilitation and prosthetics for them and provided them with targeted humanitarian assistance.’
The arrest warrant for Putin, a sitting head of state of a UN Security Council member, is an unprecedented step for the ICC.
Set up in 2002, the ICC is a court of last resort for the world’s worst crimes, when countries cannot or will not prosecute suspects.
Prosecutor Khan launched an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine just days after Russia’s invasion.
Khan recently posted pictures from a visit to Ukraine alongside empty cots in an empty children’s care home, and said that investigating alleged child abduction was a ‘priority’.
‘It’s poignant,’ he said. ‘One sees empty cribs and empty beds juxtaposed with paintings by those children on the walls.’
Zelensky, who met Khan on his visit, welcomed the arrest warrants for his nemesis in Moscow.
‘A historic decision from which historic responsibility will begin,’ Zelensky said.
Ukraine’s Western allies also hailed the move.
US President Joe Biden said the warrant was ‘justified,’ and ‘makes a very strong point,’ while noting that the United States is not a member of the ICC.
‘There is no doubt that Russia is committing war crimes and atrocities in Ukraine, and we have been clear that those responsible must be held accountable,’ a State Department spokesperson said. ‘The ICC Prosecutor is an independent actor.’
Britain called the decision ‘welcome’ and the European Union said it was ‘just the start.’ Human Rights Watch said it was a ‘big day for the many victims’ of Russian forces.
The ICC’s Khan however said there were ‘so many examples of people that thought they were beyond the reach of the law’.
ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said Putin would be liable for arrest if he set foot in any of the court’s member states
‘Look at (Slobodan) Milosevic or Charles Taylor or (Radovan) Karadzic or (Ratko) Mladic,’ he said, referring to a series of war criminals from the former Yugoslavia, and former Liberian president Taylor, who have faced justice.
Russia denies allegations of war crimes by its troops. Experts have said it is unlikely it would ever hand over any suspects.
With fighting still raging in Ukraine, Kyiv welcomed the news Friday that Slovakia will donate 13 MiG-29 warplanes.
Ukraine has long requested fighter jets from Western allies, although it is seeking primarily modern US-made F-16s.