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Biden says accusing Putin of war crimes is justified

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US President Joe Biden said that Vladimir Putin had clearly committed war crimes in Ukraine and that the issuance of an arrest warrant against the Russian president by the International Criminal Court was justified.

Although the United States, like Russia, is not a party to the international court, Biden said the ICC has made a strong case against Putin.

“It’s clear he committed war crimes,” Biden told reporters on Friday. I think that’s justified,” he said, referring to the arrest warrant.

“It has not been recognized internationally by us either. But I think it is a very strong point.”

Earlier on Friday, the International Criminal Court called for Putin’s arrest on suspicion of his involvement in the illegal deportation and transfer of children from occupied parts of Ukraine to Russia after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The court also issued an arrest warrant for Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Lvova Belova, on the same charges.

The arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court obliges the court’s 123 member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot on their soil.

The Kremlin said the court’s charges against Putin were outrageous and meaningless in terms of jurisdiction in Russia.

A US-backed report by researchers at Yale University last month found that Russia has detained at least 6,000 Ukrainian children in at least 43 camps and other facilities as part of a “systematic and extended network”.

The Ukrainian government recently said that more than 14,700 children have been deported to Russia, including more than 1,000 from the port city of Mariupol, trapped for weeks and completely destroyed.

A State Department spokesperson said in an emailed statement that the United States has separately concluded that Russian forces committed war crimes in Ukraine and bears responsibility for those war crimes.

The spokesperson added, “There is no doubt that Russia is committing war crimes and atrocities (in) Ukraine, and we have made it clear that those responsible must be held accountable.”

ICC President Piotr Hofmansky said in a video statement that while the court’s judges issued the arrest warrants, it was up to the international community to enforce them. The court does not have its own police force to do so.

The ICC can impose a maximum penalty of life imprisonment “where the extreme gravity of the crime so warrants,” according to its founding treaty, the Rome Statute. This led to the establishment of the International Criminal Court as a permanent court of last resort to try political leaders and other principal perpetrators of the world’s worst atrocities – war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

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