Opinion: ICC arrest warrant for Putin is a startling assertion

Editor’s word: Frida Ghitis, (@fridaghitis) a former producer and correspondent for CNN, is a world affairs columnist. She is a weekly opinion contributor for CNN, a contributing columnist for The Washington Submit, and a columnist for World Politics Overview. The opinions expressed on this remark are my very own. See extra opinions on CNN.


When the Worldwide Prison Courtroom (ICC) introduced on Friday that it had issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and one other key Russian official on prices associated to an alleged plan to forcibly deport hundreds of Ukrainian kids to Russia, it additionally successfully put Putin’s identify on a brief checklist alongside among the most brutal leaders the world has seen for the reason that finish of World Conflict II. With that, he branded him earlier than your complete world, together with the Russian folks, as a world pariah, probably responsible of traditionally heinous crimes.

Frida Ghitis

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov known as the ICC transfer “outrageous and unacceptable,” dismissing the arrest warrants as “null and void” for Russia. However there isn’t any doubt that this can be a gorgeous and historic blow to the status of not solely Putin but additionally trendy Russia.

Solely three sitting heads of state have confronted ICC prices whereas in workplace. The opposite two had been the late Libyan chief Moammar Gadhafi and former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, each accused of horrific crimes in opposition to their very own folks.

Russia just isn’t Libya or Sudan, each impoverished growing nations simply exterior of colonial rule. Russia is without doubt one of the nations that helped defeat Hitler’s Germany in World Conflict II. It’s a proud nation that emerged from world conflict after which communism, with huge pure assets, a extremely educated inhabitants, and a drive to grow to be a affluent democracy. He confronted many challenges, however he had a promising future.

Then got here Putin, handpicked by his predecessor Boris Yeltsin and later elected president greater than 20 years in the past, who dismantled democracy block by block, tightening his grip on energy and crushing the nation’s democratic aspirations even earlier than launching his brutal and brutal invasion. unprovoked from Ukraine.

Putin is now an accused, not convicted, conflict legal. By most accounts, he enjoys the help of most Russians. Maybe this can give a few of them a motive to rethink. However in the future, the Russian folks will look past the propaganda despatched to them and perceive the horror of what has been perpetrated of their identify.

There’s nearly no probability that Putin will face an ICC tribunal in The Hague anytime quickly. As Peskov reiterated in his assertion, Russia doesn’t acknowledge the ICC’s jurisdiction, and so long as Putin is president, he’s more likely to stay free. However except he goes to courtroom after which in some way manages to clear his identify, an end result that’s doubly unlikely, he’ll all the time bear the mark of an accused conflict legal.

Putin, together with Maria Lvova-Belova, his “Commissioner for the Rights of the Little one,” are actually formally charged with violating the legal guidelines of conflict by forcibly eradicating Ukrainian kids and deporting them to Russia. Within the phrases of the ICC, they’re “allegedly liable for the conflict crime of unlawful deportation of inhabitants (kids) and the unlawful switch of inhabitants (kids) from the occupied areas of Ukraine.” The arrest warrant states that there are “cheap grounds to consider that Mr. Putin bears particular person legal accountability for the aforementioned offences.”

For now, the ICC is focusing strictly on a single, however significantly horrifying and merciless facet of Russia’s marketing campaign in Ukraine. Russia has allegedly been taking kids out of the Ukraine and inserting them in relocation camps inside Russia and in Russian properties. Lvova-Belova has been instrumental in finishing up the coverage, which isn’t carried out in secret. actually, she publicly thanked Putin for permitting him, personally, to undertake a baby from Donbas, a Russian-occupied a part of Ukraine.

The Russian authorities claims that the entire thing is virtually a humanitarian transfer, aimed toward saving Ukrainian kids in a conflict zone. The ICC says it’s a violation of the Geneva Conventions. ICC prosecutors, Ukrainian authorities and teams centered on finding the youngsters say it’s a part of Putin’s concerted effort to erase Ukraine’s nationality. American and European officers say the youngsters spend time in a community of dozens of camps the place they obtain political re-education in an effort to make them Russian residents.

Ukrainian dad and mom are desperately making an attempt to get their kids again.

ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan stated the acts alleged within the order “show an intent to completely take away these kids from their very own nation.”

These are simply the primary two arrest warrants for a single facet of Russia’s assault on Ukraine. Khan’s workplace stated they’re on the lookout for extra suspects and can subject extra arrest warrants if the proof warrants it.

There are good causes to anticipate extra. Ukrainian officers and numerous organizations have been painstakingly documenting what they consider to be not solely conflict crimes but additionally crimes in opposition to humanity, with the expectation that there’ll finally be a reckoning.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the information. In his nightly replace to the nation on Friday, he known as the ICC transfer “a historic choice that can result in historic accountability.”

Zelensky says that Ukraine has already registered 16,000 particular person instances of compelled deportations of kids,” however the complete quantity, he famous, is more likely to be a lot increased. “Such a legal operation,” he declared, “would have been not possible with out the order of the highest chief of the terrorist state.”

By that, he meant Putin.

Putin’s means to journey is now severely restricted, as greater than 120 signatory nations to the Rome Statute creating the ICC are actually required to arrest you in case you set foot on their territory. ICC President Decide Piotr Hofmanski stated that nations are “obligated to execute arrest warrants issued by the courtroom.”

Putin might imagine that he might by no means be arrested; he might by no means find yourself in The Hague. However a small gallery of twentieth century conflict mongers, monsters to a lot of their folks and their neighbors, they went from feeling completely protected of their palaces to dealing with a courtroom in The Hague after dropping energy at house.

Whether or not Putin is handcuffed or not, his place in historical past is now assured within the darkest pages of massacres and misrule.

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