Putin is now wanted by the ICC

Briefly: The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for the arrest of Vladimir Putin on Friday. Both the Russian President and Russian children’s rights commissioner Maria Lvova-Belovaare are wanted in connection with the unlawful deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia, which constitutes a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

At least 6,000 Ukrainian children have been sent to facilities across Russian-occupied Crimea and Russia since the invasion.

But Putin’s not getting arrested any time soon: Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the ICC’s warrant as “outrageous and unacceptable”, and reminded everyone that Russia’s not actually an ICC member.

Intrigue’s take: Peskov is distracting from the real issue, which is precisely what he’s paid to do. Nobody’s expecting Russia to suddenly realise the errors of its ways and hand its president over for a war crimes trial in The Hague. But that doesn’t mean the ICC’s arrest warrant is pointless:

  • It stains Russia with the implicit condemnation of the ICC’s 123 members.
  • It isolates Putin because all ICC members now have an obligation to detain him if he enters their territory.
  • And it encourages Putin’s enemies at home (see next point).

Nobody (including us) expects Putin behind bars any time soon. But nobody expected to see former Serbian president Slobodan Milošević there either. Then a popular uprising toppled his regime, and Milošević was sitting in a Dutch jail a few months later.

What we’re saying is, history’s full of plot twists.

Also worth noting:

  • Russia isn’t the only major country that’s not an ICC signatory. Others include the US, China, India and Ukraine.
  • Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin paid a ‘surprise’ visit to occupied Mariupol in Ukraine; “[h]e has come in person to see what he has done”, Mariupol’s Ukrainian mayor in exile Vadym Boychenko told the BBC.
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