The arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin could help bring about the end of his rule in Moscow, an expert claims. Sir Geoffrey Nice, who was lead prosecutor at former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic’s trial at The Hague, says the move by the International Criminal Court (ICC) is “extremely important and not just symbolic”. He added that this could “encourage the process of [Putin’s] replacement”.
Speaking on Friday, Mr Nice told Sky News: “There’s enough information seeping out to indicate that there are some unhappy with his leadership.”
He added that “having your leader labelled and treated as a criminal throughout the world” might make a change in regime “more palatable or appealing” to Russians.
The expert continued: “It’s important because this man is now – as many would say he should have been a few weeks after the war started – labelled as a criminal.
“This is now a right war, a just war, as far as Ukraine is concerned, and a criminally led war so far as Russia is concerned. And that is extremely valuable.”
Putin’s regime has been accused of war crimes for multiple reasons. Last year, Russia’s retreat from areas near Kyiv left behind evidence of the horrific treatment of the Ukrainian people.
Locals in Bucha and Irpin spoke of rape, torture, and killings in their towns.
The ICC is issuing its arrest warrant for allegations of targeting civilian infrastructure and abducting Ukrainian children.
It is hard to know how many children have been taken to Russia from Ukraine by Putin’s forces.
The Yale Humanitarian Research Lab published a report last month claiming that Russia has taken at least 6,000 children from Ukraine and sent them Russian “re-education” camps.
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In a statement on Friday, the ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, said: “Incidents identified by my office include the deportation of at least hundreds of children taken from orphanages and children’s care homes.”
He continued: “My office alleges that these acts, amongst others, demonstrate an intention to permanently remove these children from their own country.
“We must ensure that those responsible for alleged crimes are held accountable and that children are returned to their families and communities … We cannot allow children to be treated as if they are the spoils of war.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes.”
Throughout the war, reports have documented Russian strikes hitting civilian infrastructure including hospitals.
Russia has denied all allegations of war crimes.
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As expected, Russian government figures and allies have dismissed the arrest warrant.
Former Russian President and Putin ally, Dmitry Medvedev, tweeted: “The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant against Vladimir Putin. No need to explain WHERE this paper should be used [toilet paper emoji].”
Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, also said: “We do not recognise this court; we do not recognise its jurisdiction.”
Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, also said: “The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view.
“Russia isn’t a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and is under no obligation arising from it.”