The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a warrant for the arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin who is being charged with war crimes for his alleged involvement in abducting children from Ukraine. According to CBS News, the ICC found that Putin and Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, the Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, are both suspected of bearing responsibility for the “unlawful transfer of [children] from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”
CBS News reports that the prosecution and the news outlet themselves have been gathering evidence of such war crimes. CBS News correspondent Chris Livesay spoke with children who were taken to Russia against their will, and then later rescued and brought back to Ukraine.
The Humanitarian Research Lab at Yale’s School of Public Health, which was sponsored by the U.S. State Department, discovered a “network of camps” spanning all of Russia that are holding children. The lab’s director, Nathaniel Raymond, said that the purpose of the camps seems to be “political reeducation” and that some of the children were placed in foster care.
In response to the arrest warrant, Russia’s foreign ministry said, “the decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view. Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and bears no obligations under it.”
Lvova-Belova, who allegedly spearheaded the program transferring children responded in defense of her actions saying, “it’s great that the international community has appreciated the work to help the children of our country, that we don’t leave them in the war zone, that we take them out, that we create good conditions for them, surround them with loving caring people.”
Despite the insistence from Russia’s perspective that they are not subject to the discretion of the ICC, Putin, who is now considered an “international fugitive” would still be taking an enormous risk if he leaves Russia. Ambassador Beth Van Schaack, the State Department official in charge of gathering the evidence to help prove Russia is committing war crimes in Ukraine, shared that although Putin is essentially now “trapped” in Russia, there is a likelihood that he, or other officials with an arrest warrant, may take a trip outside of the country, opening an opportunity for arrest by well-prepared and well-connected law enforcement.