A government spokesperson stated on Friday that Moscow rejects the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The official at the centre of an alleged plot to forcibly deport thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia, Maria Lvova-Belova, received a warrant from the ICC as well.
Russia views the warrants as having “no meaning,” including from a “legal point of view,” according to Maria Zakharova, a representative for the foreign ministry of Russia.
“Russia is not a member of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and bears no obligations under it,” Zakharova said. “Russia does not cooperate with this body, and possible (pretenses) for arrest coming from the International Court of Justice will be legally null and void for us.”
How war crime prosecutions work: Located in The Hague, Netherlands, and created by a treaty called the Rome Statute, the International Criminal Court operates independently.
Most countries on Earth are parties to the treaty, but there are very large and notable exceptions, including — pivotally — Russia, the US and Ukraine.
Anyone accused of a crime in the jurisdiction of the court, which includes countries that are members of the ICC, can be tried. The court tries people, not countries, and focuses on those who hold the most responsibility: leaders and officials.
While Ukraine is not a member of the court, it has previously accepted its jurisdiction.
However, the ICC does not conduct trials in absentia, so Putin or any other Moscow official would either have to be handed over by Russia or arrested outside of Russia to face ICC proceedings.