The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant on Friday against Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of being responsible for the war crime of illegal deportation of children from Ukraine.
Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations that its forces have committed atrocities during its one-year invasion of its neighbour.
The ICC arrest warrants “have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on her Telegram channel.
She added that Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute, the treaty underpinning the world’s permanent war crimes tribunal.
In its first warrant for Ukraine, the ICC called for Putin’s arrest on suspicion of unlawful deportation of children and unlawful transfer of people from the territory of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.
The Kremlin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Earlier this week Reuters reported that the court was expected to issue warrants.
Separately the court issued a warrant for Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, on the same charges.
Russia has not concealed a programme under which it has brought thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia, but presents it as a humanitarian campaign to protect orphans and children abandoned in the conflict zone.
ICC prosecutor Karim Khan opened an investigation into possible war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Ukraine a year ago. He highlighted during four trips to Ukraine that he was looking at alleged crimes against children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure.
The ICC said in a statement Putin stands accused of the war crime of unlawful deportation from the occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.
“The crimes were allegedly committed in Ukrainian occupied territory at least from 24 February 2022. There are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes.” (Reuters)