The United States government has advised European nations who are party to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to arrest Russian president Vladimir Putin if he visits the country.
Last Friday, the ICC issued an arrest warrant against Putin for his role in a Russian government effort to forcibly deport Ukrainian children into Russia and re-educate them.
The US, Russia and Ukraine are not party to the ICC but on Wednesday, March 22, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that any European country that is a party to the International Criminal Court (ICC) should arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin if he visits.
‘There’s an arrest warrant for Putin by the ICC for kidnapping children in Ukraine and taking them to Russia, is that pretty much it?’ Graham asked.
‘Yup,’ Blinken responded.
‘If Putin came to the United States for whatever reason, would we turn him over to the ICC?’ Graham asked.
‘Well, I can’t get ahead of that because I’d have to look at the laws. As you know, we are not actually a party to the ICC, so I don’t want to engage in that hypothetical,’ Blinken said.
‘I think that anyone who is a party to the court and has obligations should fulfill their obligations,’ Blinken said in response to a question from Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.
Blinken would not say whether the US authorities would turn the Russian president over to the ICC if he were to come to this country, noting that the US is not a party to the court.
‘I don’t think he has any plans to travel here soon,’ Blinken said.
Putin has scarcely left Russia in recent years, and he has not traveled to the US since 2015.
A report released in mid-February from the Conflict Observatory by the Yale Humanitarian Research Lab found that more than 6,000 children ranging in age from mere months old to 17 — have been in Russian custody at some point during the course of the war, although the ‘total number of children is not known and is likely significantly higher than 6,000.’
It identified 43 facilities that are a part of the vast network where the children were sent, stretching ‘from one end of Russia to the other,’ including Russian-occupied Crimea, the ‘eastern Pacific Coast — closer to Alaska than it is to Moscow,’ and Siberia, Yale Humanitarian Research Lab’s Nathaniel Raymond said.
‘The primary purpose of the camps appears to be political reeducation,’ he said, noting that at least 32 of the facilities identified in the report ‘appear to be engaged in systematic re-education efforts that expose children from Ukraine to Russia-centric academic, cultural, patriotic, and in two cases, specifically military education.’
However, Russian officials dismissed the warrant when asked about it last week, saying Putin was not concerned.
‘The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view,’ Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at the time.