Biden Calls ICC Issuing Putin Arrest Warrant ‘Justified’

President Joe Biden told reporters Friday that the International Criminal Court’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for the unlawful deportation of children and the illegal transfer of people from Ukraine to Russia was “justified.”

“Well, I think it’s justified. But the question is — it’s not recognized internationally by us either. But I think it makes a very strong point,” U.S. News and World Report said Biden told reporters.

ICC President Judge Piotr Hofmanski announced the warrant for Putin and another for Russian Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova in a video posted on Twitter Friday.

“Today, March 17, 2023, the International Criminal Court has issued two warrants of arrest in the Ukraine situation: for Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation, and for Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, commissioner of the Russian president’s office for children’s rights for alleged war crimes of the deportation of children from Ukrainian occupied territories into the Russian Federation,” Hofmanski said in the video.

According to an ICC press release about the warrants, the documents are secret to protect “victims and witnesses and also to safeguard the investigation.”

“Nevertheless, mindful that the conduct addressed in the present situation is allegedly ongoing, and that the public awareness of the warrants may contribute to the prevention of the further commission of crimes, the chamber considered that it is in the interests of justice to authorize the registry to publicly disclose the existence of the warrants, the name of the suspects, the crimes for which the warrants are issued, and the modes of liability as established by the chamber,” the agency said in the release.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson told U.S. News and World Report that it has concluded Putin is committing war crimes in carrying out his year-long invasion of Ukraine and should be held to account.

“There is no doubt that Russia is committing war crimes and atrocities [in] Ukraine, and we have been clear that those responsible must be held accountable,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “This was a decision the ICC prosecutor reached independently based on the facts before him.”

Newsweek reported that investigators at The Hague have gathered evidence against Putin for the past year, but that a prosecution will be difficult because Russia does not recognize the court or its jurisdiction.

“Obviously, this is a symbolic decision,” Eleonora Tafuro, a senior research fellow at the Russia, Caucasus and Central Asia Center at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies, told Newsweek.

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