EU: Putin arrest warrant important, but 'only the beginning'

The arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for Russian President Putin is important, but “is only the beginning”, says the European Union. Foreign Commissioner Josep Borell expressed the EU's "appreciation and support" for the ICC's investigation.

The arrest warrant "is an important decision for international justice and for the Ukrainian people," Borrell said. According to him, the seriousness of the crimes cited by the criminal court speak for themselves. The ICC accuses Putin of deporting Ukrainian children to Russia.

The move by the Hague-based court “is only the start of the process” of prosecuting and punishing “Russia and its leader for the crimes and atrocities they commit in Ukraine,” Borrell said.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague can count on another 4 million euros and help in the form of expertise. The support was pledged by more than thirty ministers at a conference in London.

With 1 million euros, the Netherlands is contributing a quarter of the total amount. The Netherlands will also provide personnel and expertise. These are investigative teams led by the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, which investigate possible war crimes. The Belgians and Czechs are also sending researchers; Denmark helps with the identification of victims and Ghana wants to admit witnesses to a protection program. 

The Ukrainian government welcomed the decision. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba responded to the arrest warrant by stating that “the wheels of justice are turning: I applaud the ICC decision to issue arrest warrants for Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova” and that “international criminals will be held responsible held for stealing children and other international crimes.” 

Both Putin and senior Russian officials have been accused of forcibly transferring thousands of Ukrainian children across the border to Russia. The Ukrainian government claims that 16,226 children – ranging from babies to teenagers – have been deported to Russia, 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed that Russia has committed more than 400 war crimes in the Kherson region alone. More cooperation between Ukrainian war crimes investigators and the court is likely to lead to more crimes being documented and more charges brought against Putin and his officials.