What does Putin’s arrest warrant mean?

March 17, 2023

On Friday, March 17, 2023, the Pre-trial Chamber II issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, who is the Presidential Commissioner for Children.

Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova are suspected of committing a war crime of illegal deportation and transfer of children from the occupied regions of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, which has been happening since at least February 24, 2022.

The manager and lawyer of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center Liudmyla Korotkykh believes that this is a great victory in the international legal plane for Ukraine. After all, besides the fact that the President of Russia was put on a par with Muammar Gaddafi, Thomas Lubanga, Ahmad Karun and other well-known criminals of the 21st century, any possibility of concluding agreements and a truce is virtually excluded, including through the mediation of a civilized country and an international organization.

It should be noted that the warrant concerns only the episode with the abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children. Why exactly?

“If you look at the practice of the ICC, then the issue of protecting children is the most important priority in its activities. For example, the main charge against Thomas Lubang was the illegal conscription of children under the age of 15 for military service during the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and it was precisely on charges of kidnapping thousands of children that warrants were issued to 5 members of the armed formation of the Lord’s Resistance Force in Uganda,- explains Korotkykh.

“The consequences will be in the measurement of all future activities of the UN, including the Security Council, and for the practical behavior of the neutrals and, of course, for the entire modern international system, not excluding the economy and finance. After all, the point is not only in Putin, but also in the discussion of the second Nuremberg: because in fact now we are talking about the competition of approaches to ensuring international order and security: borrowed in the 20th century and modern, within the framework of competitive transparent procedures and the humanistic doctrine of modernity”,- Borys Babin, lawyer of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, notes.

Oleksii Plotnykov, a lawyer and expert of the CTRC, notes that the International Criminal Court actually took the shortest route to prove that genocide is taking place in Ukraine. Because in international criminal law, to prove genocide, the most difficult problem is to prove the so-called genocidal intent.

“International lawyers, politicians have doubts about whether it is really possible to prove genocide in Ukraine, because compared to other genocides, for example, in Rwanda, in Bosnia, we have, I would say, a kind of low-intensity genocide, then we have significantly fewer victims compared to the classic”cases of genocides, so to speak. But at the same time, everyone has one crime that unequivocally proves that this is genocide – this is precisely the abduction of children”,- he explains.

Thus, according to the international definition of genocide, which is repeated both in the Convention against Genocide and in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the forcible transfer of children from one ethnic group to another is a clear sign of genocide.

But how realistic is it that Volodymyr Putin will actually face an international criminal court? He may not leave the Russian Federation, why should he?

“Firstly, 123 countries are signatories to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, by the way, Ukraine was also supposed to be there, but our Constitutional Court demolished the draft on the ratification of the Rome Statute, which created a big problem for us. Now the President of the Russian Federation cannot travel to any of these countries. Considering that he is a rather cowardly being, I don’t think that he will be able to visit any of these countries, that is, he can forget about international visits”,- adds the expert.