President Biden on Friday said that he believed the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant for Russian leader Vladimir Putin is “justified” and that he has “clearly committed war crimes” in Ukraine.
The president, however, noted that the US and several other countries do not recognize the ICC’s authority.
“I think it’s justified, but the question is it’s not recognized internationally by us either,” Biden, 80, told reporters before departing the White House for a weekend trip to Delaware.
“But I think it makes a very strong point,” he added.
When asked whether he thought Putin should be tried for war crimes related to his bloody invasion of Ukraine, the president did not answer directly but said it was clear the Russian leader did commit war crimes.
“He’s clearly committed war crimes,” Biden told reporters.
The Hague issued a warrant for Putin’s arrest Friday on suspicion of unlawful abduction and deportation of children, and the illegal transfer of people from Ukraine to Russia, in the ICC’s first warrant related to the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes,” the Netherlands-based court said.
The warrant was issued following a year-long investigation ICC prosecutor Karim Khan into war crimes and genocide committed by Russian forces in the former Soviet state.
The Hague also issued a warrant for Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, for the same crimes Putin is accused of.
However, the ICC has no police force of its own capable of carrying out arrests.
Russia and Ukraine are also not members of the 123-member ICC.
The Kremlin blasted the warrants Friday and said it would not cooperate with the ICC.
“We consider the very posing of the question outrageous and unacceptable. Russia, like a number of states, does not recognize the jurisdiction of this court and, accordingly, any decisions of this kind are null and void for the Russian Federation from the point of view of law,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tweeted Friday.
Vice President Kamala Harris told the Munich Security Conference last month that the US has determined that Russia has committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine.
“Their actions are an assault on our common values, an attack on our common humanity,” Harris said, citing evidence of execution-style killings, rape and torture. “The United States has formally determined that Russia has committed crimes against humanity.”
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