The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to issue an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin theoretically isolates the Russian president from two-thirds of the world, but still leaves a significant number of countries to visit.
The arrest warrants for Putin and Russia’s child rights commissioner Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova were linked to the forced deportation of wartime children from Ukraine to Russia, where many were adopted by Russian families.
The forced deportation of populations is recognized as a crime under the Rome Statute, which Russia signed but withdrew in 2016. With Moscow not recognizing the court, it is unlikely that Putin or Lvova-Belova will be subjected to its jurisdiction.
But it sends a signal to senior Russian officials that they may face criminal prosecution and restricts their ability to travel internationally, including attending international forums.
Balkees Jarrah, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement to latestpagenews that the decision “sends a clear message that issuing orders to commit or condone serious crimes against civilians can result in a jail cell in The Hague.” .
The ICC’s decision, issued on Friday, means the 123-member court would have to arrest the Russian president and transfer him to The Hague, Netherlands, for trial if he enters their sovereign territory. However, with 193 member states of the United Nations, there are still 70 countries that would not fall under the ban of the International Criminal Court.
The United States participated in the negotiations that led to the creation of the International Criminal Court, but in 1998 was one of only seven countries to vote against the Rome Statute, the court’s founding treaty.
However, the US sanctioned Putin on February 25, 2022, a day after he launched Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine.
The other countries that voted against the Rome Statute were Iraq, Israel, Libya, Qatar, Yemen and China.
Beijing is still officially neutral on Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and trade and relations between China and Russia have strengthened since the war began and would therefore likely welcome a visit from Putin. Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet Putin in the Russian capital next week.
Putin can still go to Iran, which acts as a key ally of Moscow, supplying it with drones for its war effort. Even the world’s largest democracy, India, is not an ICC signatory and has not condemned Putin’s invasion. Over the past year it has strengthened ties with Moscow.
Meanwhile, Putin maintains close ties with the former Soviet states, with the exception of the Baltic states and Georgia, which recognize the ICC.
This still leaves him a chance to visit countries in the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) alliances, such as Armenia and Azerbaijan. Belarus, whose leader Alexander Lukashenko allows Russian forces to use the country as a base for the war, remains a staunch ally.
Ukraine has not signed the court in The Hague, but has given the International Criminal Court jurisdiction to investigate war crimes committed on its territory. Kiev said more than 16,000 Ukrainian children have been deported to Russia since the war began, many of whom were reportedly placed in institutions and foster homes.
A US State Department spokesman told latestpagenews that in some cases the Kremlin had cut off communications with the children’s families and guardians and failed to provide registration lists of those relocated and deported.
“We will continue to urge Moscow to cooperate in tracing family members and facilitating reunification, beginning with granting access to international organizations and independent external observers,” the spokesman said in a statement.
The statement said that “forced relocation, re-education and adoption of Ukrainian children” are part of the Kremlin’s efforts to “deny and suppress Ukraine’s identity, history and culture.
“The devastating effects of Russia’s failed aggressive war will be felt for generations to come,” the State Department added.
Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia “does not recognize the jurisdiction of this court and accordingly all decisions of this nature are null and void.” latestpagenews has reached out to the Kremlin for comment.