THE HAGUE (AP) — The International Criminal Court said Friday it has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes because of his alleged involvement in abductions of children from Ukraine. The court said in a statement that Putin “is allegedly responsible 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.”
It also issued a warrant Friday for the arrest of Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, the Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, on similar allegations.
The court’s president, Piotr Hofmanski, said in a video statement that while the ICC’s judges have issued the warrants, it will be up to the international community to enforce them. The court has no police force of its own to enforce warrants. “The ICC is doing its part of work as a court of law. The judges issued arrest warrants. The execution depends on international cooperation.”
A possible trial of any Russians at the ICC remains a long way off, as Moscow does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction — a position reaffirmed earlier this week by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov — and does not extradite its nationals.
Comment: This abduction of Ukrainian children falls under the definition of genocide under the 1948 Genocide Convention. The extent of these abductions is still not clear. A report from the Yale Humanitarian research Lab puts the number at 6,000. The Ukrainian government estimates range from 14,000 to well over 200,000. During summer 2022, Lvova-Belova, herself, said 350 Ukrainian “orphans” from the Donbas region were adopted by Russian families, while another 1,000 Ukrainian children were awaiting adoption in Russia. She even adopted a Ukrainian child herself.
It’s easy to paint Putin, Lvova-Belova and any other Russians involved in this activity as cartoonish, child-eating ogres. That’s too easy and not accurate. This Russian activity is similar to the politicians and church leaders who took native American children away from their families across North America. Pope Francis felt it necessary to travel to Canada last year and beg for forgiveness for the Church’s part in that activity. At the time, those politicians and church leaders thought they were doing the right thing in “civilizing” those native American children and erasing their culture. So many Russians have that same mindset. They feel they are “civilizing” those Ukrainian children while doing their damnedest to erase Ukrainian culture and society. This is not a valid excuse, just an explanation for this genocidal behavior. The above photo of Lvova-Belova and the hapless orphans is from a Russian government article painting the abduction and reeducation program as a great humanitarian effort. They’re wrong, just as wrong as those North Americans involved in the native schools horror.
Will some future Russian leader make the pilgrimage to Kyiv a hundred years from now and beg the Ukrainians for forgiveness? I doubt it, but who knows what can happen a hundred years from now. What I am fairly certain of is that Putin will not be appearing before the ICC. But he’ll probably think twice about his future international travel itinerary.