The International Criminal Court has expressed concern about “threats” from Russia following the issuance of an arrest warrant against President Vladimir Putin on charges of war crimes.
The ICC statement emerged on Wednesday after former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev threatened to hit the war crimes court in The Hague with hypersonic missiles. It also comes after Russia’s highest investigative body opened a criminal case against the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, as well as the judges who issued Putin’s arrest warrant.
The Presidency of the ICC’s Assembly of States Parties said it “regrets these attempts to obstruct international efforts to secure accountability for acts prohibited by public international law.”
The presidency announced that the association “reaffirms its unwavering support for the International Criminal Court.”
The International Criminal Court embodies our collective commitment to combating impunity for the most serious international crimes. As an institution of last resort, the Court is complementary to national jurisdictions. We call on all countries to respect the independence of the judiciary and public prosecution.
Medvedev said on Monday: “It is quite possible to imagine the launch of a hypersonic missile from the North Sea from a Russian ship in front of the court in The Hague.”
He added, “Everyone walks in the shadow of God and missiles… Look carefully at the sky…”
The ICC arrest warrant, issued on Friday, accuses the Russian president of illegally deporting thousands of Ukrainian children, a war crime.
The legal ruling would force the court’s 123 member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot on their soil.
Neither Russia nor Ukraine are members of the ICC, although Kiev has given the court jurisdiction to try crimes committed on its territory. The court also does not have its own police force and relies on member states to make arrests.
The ICC also issued an arrest warrant for Maria Lvova Belova, Russia’s Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights, on similar charges.
Moscow dismissed the orders as “null and void” and Russia’s top investigative committee said there were no grounds for criminal responsibility on the part of Putin. He also said that heads of state enjoy absolute immunity under the 1973 United Nations Convention.
The commission said the actions of the ICC prosecutor in issuing the arrest warrants showed signs of crimes under Russian law, including accusing an innocent person of a crime.
Ukraine, which says more than 16,000 Ukrainian children have been deported to Russia since the invasion on February 24, 2022, called the ICC a “historic decision” that would lead to a “historic reckoning”.
Its Western allies, including the United States and the European Union, welcomed the court’s decision.
Although the United States is not a party to the International Criminal Court, President Joe Biden said on Friday that Putin had clearly committed war crimes, adding that the ICC warrant was justified.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged all ICC members to comply with the mandate.
“I think anyone who went to court with commitments should live up to their commitments,” Blinken said Wednesday when US Senator Lindsey Graham asked him at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing if he would encourage European allies to “return” Putin. .