Russia's President Putin attends Prosecutor General collegium meeting in Moscow


  • The ICC will approach Interpol and its signatory member states to enforce a warrant on Putin
  • Germany will then be obliged to arrest Putin in its territory and hand him over to the tribunal
  • Any ICC decisions regarding Russia were "null and void," Putin's spokesman said

Germany is obliged to arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin within its territory should authorities request the country to enforce an International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant against him, according to German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann.

Buschmann expects that the tribunal based in The Hague, Netherlands, will approach international police authority Interpol as well as its signatory member states like Germany to enforce the arrest warrant, he told German Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

"Germany is then obliged to arrest President Putin and hand him over to the ICC if he enters German territory," he said, according to a translation provided by German state-owned broadcaster DW.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant against Putin Friday for alleged war crimes committed in his country's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, namely the unlawful deportation of children and the unlawful transfer of children from occupied Ukrainian territory to Russia.

An arrest warrant was also issued against Russian Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights Maria Lvova-Belova, who faced the same allegations.

There was evidence of the illegal transfer of hundreds of Ukrainian children to Russia, among other war crimes such as torture, rape and willful killings, an independent investigation commissioned by the United Nations found.

About 16,221 children have been forcibly taken to Russia, the BBC reported, citing data provided by the Ukrainian government.

"There are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes, (i) for having committed the acts directly, jointly with others and/or through others (article 25(3)(a) of the Rome Statute), and (ii) for his failure to exercise control properly over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts, or allowed for their commission, and who were under his effective authority and control, pursuant to superior responsibility (article 28(b) of the Rome Statute)," the ICC said in a statement.

In 2000, Russia signed the Rome Statute, a treaty that established the ICC and recognized war crimes. However, the country never ratified the agreement to become a member state, and it even withdrew its signature in 2016.

"Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and bears no obligations under it," Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said.

Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov also said he believes any of the ICC's decisions regarding Russia were "null and void," per DW.

However, ICC president Piotr Hofmański claimed that Russia's decision not to ratify the Rome Statute was "completely irrelevant."

"According to the ICC statute, which has 123 state parties, two-thirds of the whole international community, the court has jurisdiction over crimes committed in the territory of a state party or a state which has accepted its jurisdiction. Ukraine has accepted the ICC twice – in 2014 and then in 2015," the Polish jurist told Al Jazeera.

Ukraine welcomed the ICC's decision to issue an arrest warrant, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praising it as a "historic decision from which historic responsibility will begin."

"To part children from their families, to prevent them from contacting their relatives, to hide children on the territory of Russia, to disseminate them around far-flung regions is clearly state policy of Russia, state decisions and state evil, which starts precisely with the top official of this state," Zelensky said.

Western leaders also welcomed the ICC warrant, including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who said during a visit to Japan that it showed that "nobody is above the law," according to another DW report.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden, whose country is not an ICC member state, called the warrant "justified."

"There is no doubt that Russia is committing war crimes and atrocities [in] Ukraine, and we have been clear that those responsible must be held accountable," a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said.

Putin is the third sitting president to be issued an ICC arrest warrant after Sudan's Omar al-Bashir and Libya's Muammar Gaddafi.

Both Arab leaders were never arrested as a result of their respective warrants.

The International Criminal Court is already investigating war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Ukraine