Russia Responds to ICC Arrest Warrant Against Putin: It Is Legally Null and Void
Orinoco Tribune, March 18, 2023 — The US does not recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction, though it welcomed the court’s decision to issue an ‘arrest warrant’ for Putin.
The arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova are “null and void” and “carry no legal weight,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova announced on Friday, March 1. Earlier on Friday, the ICC issued arrest warrants against the Russian president and the senior official for alleged “war crimes” related to the purported “unlawful transfer” of Ukrainian children from the conflict zone over the past year.
Zakharova pointed out that Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court and thus has no obligation to abide by the court’s decisions.
“The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no significance for our country, including from a legal point of view,” Zakharova said. “Russia is not a party to the ICC’s Rome Statute and bears no obligations under it. Russia is not engaged in cooperation with this body, and any possible [orders] for arrests coming from the court will be legally null and void for us.”
The ICC has no power to proceed with the arrest of the Russian president and the children’s rights commissioner, as the body can only exercise jurisdiction within the countries that signed the Rome Statute that created the court.
The vice president of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev, compared the arrest warrant to toilet paper.
“The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant against Vladimir Putin. No need to explain WHERE this paper should be used,” Medvedev wrote on Twitter.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow is under no obligation to acknowledge the “arrest warrant” issued by the ICC. “We consider the very premise outrageous and unacceptable,” Peskov told reporters when asked about the warrant for purported war crimes. “Russia, like many other states, does not recognize the jurisdiction of this court. Accordingly, the Russian Federation considers any of its pronouncements null and void from the legal standpoint.”
The ICC issued “warrants of arrest” against Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova over their alleged responsibility “for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation” from “at least” February 2022 on.
Russian authorities have evacuated thousands of residents, mostly children and women, from Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson—four regions that overwhelmingly voted to join Russia in a referendum held last September—to the interior, in order to protect them from the deliberate attacks on civilians committed by Ukrainian forces using NATO-supplied weapons. The evacuation of children from the regions that recently joined Russia as well as from Crimea has been branded by Western officials as “stealing of Ukrainian children.”
Neither Russia nor Ukraine have ratified the Rome Statute that established the ICC. The US, which underwrote the ICC tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, even adopted the American Servicemembers Protection Act (informally called The Hague Invasion Act) authorizing a military invasion of the Netherlands if any American is ever detained by the court.
In this context, the latest decision by the ICC is seen by many analyst as a clear evidence of bias in the international body under the leadership of the new Prosecutor Karim Khan, a UK citizen.