The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on charges of abducting children from occupied areas of Ukraine.
In a statement published on Friday, the ICC said that Putin "is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation".
The ICC added that there "are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility" for these alleged crimes, as well as for "his failure to exercise control properly over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts".
The ICC also issued an arrest warrant for Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, the Commissioner for Children's Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, on the same charges.
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The warrants were issued a mere day after a UN-backed independent investigation found that, since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, Russia had committed "a wide range of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in various regions of Ukraine, many of which amount to war crimes".
"The war crimes include attacks on civilians and energy-related infrastructure, wilful killings, unlawful confinement, torture, rape and other sexual violence, as well as unlawful transfers and deportations of children," the report added.
Russia denies all allegations of war crimes. In a statement posted on Telegram shortly after the ICC's decision, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said the ICC's decision "has no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view".
Zakharova's comments echoed previous remarks by Dmitry Peskov, Putin's official spokesperson, who said on Tuesday that Russia does not "recognise the jurisdiction" of the ICC.