The ICC Is Just Getting Started on Going After Putin

The ICC Is Just Getting Started on Going After Putin
Demonstrators carry an effigy with the image of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the inscription “Putin to the Hague - Putin to Court” in Munich, Germany, May 9, 2022 (DPA photo by Peter Kneffel via AP Images)

Last week, the International Criminal Court announced it was issuing an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin for the unlawful transfer of children from Ukraine to Russia since the start of the Russian invasion last year. According to Ukrainian statistics, over 16,000 children have been forcibly deported in that time; only around 10,000 have been located, and only around 300 have been returned. Some were taken from orphanages, while others were taken from parents under coercion in Russian-occupied areas and spirited away to “summer camps.” Still others were taken after they had become separated from their families at filtration points. Many of these children have been formally adopted by Russian families, amid reports that they are being indoctrinated with anti-Ukraine propaganda.

Though the child deportation scheme is horrifying, the ICC’s decision to focus on it might surprise some observers. It had attracted relatively less attention in the media compared to all the other possible war crimes Russian forces have allegedly committed in Ukraine. And Putin can and probably will argue that Ukraine failed to adequately protect the children in its orphanages, and that the Russians were only seeking to keep these and other children out of a conflict zone.

Why did the ICC not instead—or also—indict Putin for mass rape, after reports that many women, girls, men and boys have been targeted for sexual violence in the armed conflict? Or for the widely reported massacres and indiscriminate shelling of civilians? Why not for the crime of aggression itself? All of these crimes have been in the limelight, and due to the nature of the conflict, they are crimes where there is no possibility of turning the tables by accusing Ukraine of being culpable.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review