Kremlin propagandists have given an angry response to the decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin.
The ICC’s decision on Friday concluding that the Russian president committed war crimes in his full-scale invasion of Ukraine centers on the unlawful deportation of Ukrainian children. The Yale Humanitarian Research Lab published a report in February alleging that at least 6,000 children from Ukraine had been sent to Russian “re-education” camps.
ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said that his office had identified the deportation of “at least hundreds of children taken from orphanages and children’s care homes.”
Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, is also wanted by the ICC for the same alleged crimes. Moscow has dismissed the ICC move as “outrageous” and the prospect of Putin going to The Hague is unlikely given that Russia does not recognize its jurisdiction.
But those who appear on Russian state television have given their view on the ICC’s decision. The head of the RT channel, Margarita Simonyan, wrote on her Telegram social media channel, “I’d like to see the country that arrests Putin according to The Hague’s ruling. Eight minutes later. Or whatever the flight time to its capital is,” she added.
This appeared to be a reference to the length of time it would take a Russian nuclear missile to reach a Western capital, which is a frequent theme on the discussion programs she appears on.
Meanwhile, TV anchor Vladimir Solovyov, who hosts a nightly show on the Russia 1 channel that often features Simonyan, said that The Hague “should be nominating Vladimir Putin for the Nobel Peace Prize because of these children.”
“We in Russia have given children from Donbas shelter, food and education. And you couldn’t even accept Ukrainian refugees humanely in the European Union,” he added in the comments reported by Ukrainian news outlet Ukrainska Pravda.
Another TV host on Russia 1, Olga Skabeyeva, posted an image on Telegram captioned “Putin goes to surrender to The Hague”, in which Putin is on the back of U.S. President Joe Biden at the bottom of the steps of Air Force One.
The court may have no sway in Russia, which does not recognize its jurisdiction, but Biden said that the issuing of the warrant “makes a very strong point,” telling reporters on Friday, “he’s clearly committed war crimes.”
In a statement, the U.S. State Department told Newsweek on Friday that Russia’s alleged actions “will have serious long-term implications on these children’s development.”
“Russia’s actions speak for themselves. The international community cannot ignore the reality that appalling abuses are the result of decisions and actions at all levels of Russia’s government,” the statement added. Newsweek has contacted the Kremlin for further comment on the ICC ruling.
While it took part in the negotiations to create the ICC, the U.S. is not a state party to the Rome Statute which led to the court. Former President Bill Clinton signed the statute but did not submit the treaty to the Senate for ratification. In 2002, former President George W. Bush informed the U.N. that the U.S. no longer intended to ratify the treaty and that it did not have any obligations toward it.