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ICC Issues Arrest Warrant for Vladimir Putin

Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Vladimir Putin will probably have to cancel all travel plans, at least to nations that are signatories of the International Criminal Court. Today, that body issued an arrest warrant on allegations that Russia has committed heinous war crimes in Ukraine. The announcement was met with strong denials from the Kremlin, which was predictable, claiming that these moves at placing pressure on Moscow are done only to discredit Russian Federation (via NBC News):

The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant Friday for Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of being responsible for war crimes in Ukraine. 

Putin committed the “war crime” of overseeing the unlawful abduction and deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia, the court said in a news release. 

“There are reasonable grounds to believe that Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes,” the court, based in The Hague, Netherlands, said its pre-trial judges had assessed. 

It added that Putin had failed to “exercise control properly over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts, or allowed for their commission, and who were under his effective authority and control.” 

Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, Putin's presidential commissioner for children's rights, is also alleged to have committed similar crimes, the ICC said. 

Now, let’s be honest: this is a mostly symbolic gesture. The ICC has no police force, and even if they did, they wouldn’t barge into the Grand Kremlin Palace, slap cuffs on Putin, and airlift him to The Hauge. They rely on signatory states’ police forces to execute the warrants, which is most of Europe. The United States doesn’t recognize ICC jurisdiction. Still, it could cause a headache for Joe Biden or whoever is the next president should Putin defy international norms, as he’s done often, and travel here—because the pressure to do something could be mind-splitting—or any nation that recognizes the ICC for something like a significant international summit.

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