ICC decision against Putin a pressure tactic - GulfToday

ICC decision against Putin a pressure tactic

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin holding him responsible for the deportation and transfer of children from the occupied parts of Ukraine to Russia. The court in its statement has said, “There are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for having committing the acts directly, jointly with others and/or through others (and) for his failure to exercise control properly over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts.” Kremlin has rejected the warrant as legally void. An arrest warrant as also been issued against Maria Lvova-Blova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights. Researchers at the Yale University backed by the US government in a report said that six thousand Ukrainian children are held in 43 camps as part of a “large scale systemic network”. And the Ukrainian government said 14,700 Ukrainian children have been deported to Russia, including 1,000 from Mariupol occupied by Russia. It appears that the ICC has issued arrest warrants based on its own sources.

United States President Joe Biden as well the former United Kingdom prime minister Boris Johnson have been vehement in their references to the Russian president, and even hinting that Mr Putin should be tried as a war criminal for waging war against Ukraine. Other European leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron have objected to the indiscreet language and Mr Macron has even warned that it would make future negotiations with Russia difficult because Mr Putin would be the man to deal with.

The arrest warrant expresses the frustration of the West in its failure to end the war on its own terms. Mr Biden and others have believed that the economic sanctions would choke and break the Russian economy, and that Mr Putin would seek negotiations. Mr Putin is of course ready to talk because he is an advantageous position because Russian troops have occupied parts of eastern Ukraine where there are many Russian-speaking supporters of Moscow, and though he has failed to score a decisive victory against Ukraine and displace the government of President Volodymyr Zelinsky in Kyiv. But Russia has not won the war, but it has not lost either. The ICC’s warrant seems to be a pressure tactic on the part of the US and Western Europe to force Mr Putin’s hand but it could turn out to be a clumsy gesture. And no one is more aware of this than Mr Biden himself. He knows that the warrant does not amount to much. He said, “He’s clearly committed war crimes. I think it’s justified.” But he goes on to say, “It’s (the ICC) not recognised internationally by us either. But I think it makes a very strong point.” The American president seems to be aware of the limited reach of the ICC.

There are 143 signatories to the Rome Statute that has brought the ICC into existence, and president of ICC in a video statement said as the court has no force of its own to implement its decision, it is for the member-countries to arrest Mr Putin if he arrives in their territory and transfer him to The Hague. The ICC decision would have the effect of Mr Putin travelling abroad to attend international conferences and summits like that of G20. This might not in any way help ending the war in Ukraine. The expectation of the US and the European Union (EU) countries that this could prod Russians to replace Mr Putin as the leader seems much too unrealistic. The ICC warrant against Mr Putin is a cynical and futile pressure tactic at the political and diplomatic level. And this could hurt the image of the ICC as an impartial body.

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