How has Russia Reacted to the ICC Arrest Warrant for Putin?

April 10, 2023
On March 17, 2023, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants against Russian President Vladimir Putin and children’s affairs ombudswoman Maria Lvova-Belova.
Photo credit: NBC News

What exactly are they accused of?

The ICC chose to issue warrants on the war crimes charges of  "unlawful deportation of population (children) and of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation."

Forcible deportation of a population for the purpose of erasing their identity and further subjugation has long been a strategy used by Moscow,  and not only for Ukrainians.

Although the numbers vary due to the difficulties involved in making estimates, it is known for certain that since the full-scale invasion, a minimum of 2.5 million Ukrainians have been forcibly displaced by Russia, including thousands of children.

It is children who are in the most vulnerable position.

There is now extensive documentation of Russia deliberately separating them from their parents, threatening to send them to orphanages, and trying to forcefully erase their Ukrainian identity in order to replace it with a Russian one.

This has been confirmed by children who have been freed from Russian captivity.

The Kremlin naturally reacted with great hostility to  the ICC's decision.

Remarkably, the majority of Russian officials did not even comment on the forced deportations which were the subject of the warrants, but rather simply tried to insult the International Criminal Court as much as possible.

Andrey Klishas, the Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation, called the arrest warrants "absurd" and demanded the "immediate issuance of arrest warrants for all ICC judges."

Some Russian politicians made new nuclear threats. Former President and current Deputy Chairman of Russia's Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, threatened to aim "all our means" at Berlin if Germany were to arrest Putin.

Russia Today Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan leveled similar nuclear threats, vowing that  if any country arrests Putin, its capital would be destroyed in 8 minutes.

Russia's notorious nukes.

Russia is extremely angry when countries it considers to be allies act independently.

When the Constitutional Court of Armenia supported joining the ICC, the pro-Kremlin media lambasted the Armenian government and warned of "extremely negative consequences" if the decision was adopted.

Putin himself has avoided commenting on the arrest warrant, but his press secretary Peskov stated that the President is calm about this decision and "is not taking  it to heart."

For all of Peskov's lies, we can be sure he is telling the truth here. After all, it was not Putin'schildren who were kidnapped.

This is typical cynicism and cruelty of Moscow. How long will it last?

Oleksii Mezentsev
Analyst and Project Coordinator at UkraineWorld and Internews Ukraine