The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Russian president Vladimir Putin on Friday (March 17), accusing him of ordering war crimes during his invasion of Ukraine.
Specifically, the ICC has accused Putin of deporting children in occupied Ukrainian territories back to Russia, considered a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention. The court accused Putin of being directly involved in the crime of sending at least 6,000 children to reeducation camps and facilities.
The warrant also mentioned Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights Maria Lvova-Belova, who has said she wants to forcibly assimilate Ukrainian children taken to Russia, and she claims to have adopted a 15-year-old boy from Mariupol.
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the decision as “null and void” in an interview with Russian state media, while former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev insinuated in a tweet he wanted to use the warrant as toilet paper.
It is unlikely that anything will happen because of this warrant. The ICC has no jurisdiction in Russia, as the country is not a member of the international court. The warrant may, however, limit international travel for Putin at risk of arrest.
ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said he understands the court’s limited power, but he still wants to make the warrant public in order to increase scrutiny of Putin’s actions.
Along with Russia and China, the US has not ratified its membership in the ICC, although it was an initial signatory to the court’s creation.
In fact, the American government passed a law opposing the ICC called the American Services Members Protection Act. However, the law is more commonly known as the “Hague Invasion Act,” as it mandates the US military do everything in its power to free a service member who has been arrested for possible war crimes, up to and including invading Holland.
The law was written by infamous North Carolina Republican Sen. Jesse Helms in 2002 and co-sponsored by then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY). It was signed into law by President George W. Bush.
The bill prohibits any local, state, or federal law enforcement group from assisting the ICC and prevents the extradition of any American to ICC custody. It also prohibits providing military aid to any member of the ICC, excluding NATO countries, Taiwan, and other countries that signed an Article 98 agreement not to extradite Americans to the ICC.