The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague issues an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin. The ICC justifies its decision on the grounds that Russia is carrying out "illegal deportations" of Ukrainian children.
This complicates Putin's role as a world leader, according to a security expert.
The Court announced in a statement that Putin may "be responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied territories of Ukraine to Russia."
The ICC also announces that it is issuing an arrest warrant for the Russian children's ombudsman Maria Lvova-Belova.
According to the ICC, the crimes date from February 24, 2022, the day Russia launched the war of aggression in Ukraine.
"There are reasonable grounds to believe that Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes," it said.
Earlier, an investigation by a group of European journalists found that around 400 Ukrainian children were taken across the border to Russia. Human rights organizations fear that the figure could be much higher.
Zelensky: Historic decision
The President is accused, on the one hand, of being directly responsible for carrying out the crimes and, on the other hand, of "failure to exercise control over civilian and military subordinates who carried out the crimes, or allowed their execution."
From the Ukrainian side, the message from the ICC is welcomed.
President Volodymyr Zelensky celebrates on social media what he describes as the "historical" decision and adds that the decision will require a "historical responsibility".
"It's a historic decision for Ukraine and the entire system of international laws," states Ukrainian Attorney General Andrij Kostin.
Jan Hallenberg, Research Director at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, believes that the measure will make life more difficult for Putin in a way:
"It's not a real threat to his position of power in Russia, but it limits his ability to act as a world leader on the international stage outside Russia."
The fact that the arrest warrant would risk an extension of the war does not believe Jan Hallenberg, unlike military analyst Sean Bell's conclusion in Sky News
Russia, however, is waving away the importance of the arrest warrant.
"The decision of the International Criminal Court has no bearing on our country, including from a legal point of view," claims spokesperson Maria Zacharova of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on social media.
"Russia, as well as a number of other countries, does not recognize the legal authority of the Court of Justice and, from a legal point of view, the decisions of this Court lack validity", says Kremlin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov to journalists.
Former Russian President Dmitri Medvedev compares the arrest warrant with toilet paper.
"The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant against Vladimir Putin. I don't need to explain WHERE this paper should be used," he writes on Twitter, followed by a toilet paper emoji.
Neither Russia nor Ukraine are members of the ICC, but Kyiv has accepted the legal authority of the Court.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is a court based in The Hague, Netherlands. It judges in goal on war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
The ICC began its activities in 2002 and is a complement to the International Court of Justice in The Hague (ICJ) ICJ judges in intergovernmental disputes and the ICC judges individuals who have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity or have been complicit in genocide.
The Court is activated by allowing an internationally appointed prosecutor to extradite a suspect from a country where the offense was committed, from the country where he is a national or from a third country where the consent of one of the first two States exists.
When the ICC came into being, it was seen as a milestone in the pursuit of an international justice system, but over the years it has become increasingly criticized, including for being politicized, and there have also been criticisms of the fact that a majority of its work has been directed at Africa.
The US has repeatedly opposed the Court's work. In 2020, US sanctions were directed against ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda when she sought to investigate possible war crimes during the US's war in Afghanistan.