Zelensky praised the ICC’s move in a video address to Ukrainians late on Friday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.
Ukraine’s president said: “Today, we have a fundamental decision of international justice…. The International Criminal Court issued a warrant of arrest for Putin.”
Zelensky said it was a “historic decision, from which historical responsibility will begin.”
He stressed Putin had now officially become a suspect in a war crime case, regarding “the deportation of Ukrainian children – the illegal transfer of thousands of our children to the territory of the terrorist state.”
Zelensky said Ukrainian investigators had already documented “over 16,000 cases of forced deportation of Ukrainian children by the occupier,” adding: “But the real, full number of deportees may be much higher.”
‘Deportations would be impossible without orders from the top’
Ukraine’s president stated: “It would be impossible to commit such a criminal operation without the order of the top leader of the terrorist state.”
He said that Ukraine had so far secured the return of “a little more than 300” of the abducted children.
Zelensky vowed: “It is obvious that we have to return everyone. It is obvious that we will continue doing everything for this. For returning every Ukrainian, every Ukrainian woman, every our child. And for the real responsibility of all those responsible for this deportation – from the head of the terrorist state to all the executors.”
Putin arrest warrant ‘justified’: Biden
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden has said that the International Criminal Court’s move to issue an arrest warrant for Putin was “justified” as the Russian leader “has clearly committed war crimes,” the PAP news agency reported.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Biden said of the warrant: “Well, I think it’s justified.”
The US president noted that his country was not a member of the ICC, but stressed: “I think it makes a very strong point.”
He added that Putin "has clearly committed war crimes."
The ICC decision, also welcomed by Poland, over allegations that Putin has overseen the unlawful deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia, marks the first time the court has issued a warrant against one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, according to Britain’s The Guardian newspaper.
The court’s move obligates its 123 member countries to arrest the Russian leader and transfer him to The Hague, Netherlands, for trial, if he sets foot on their land, the UK paper also noted.
Russian forces have perpetrated “a wide range of war crimes” during their assault on Ukraine, including willful killings, systematic torture and deportation of children, according to a new report from a UN-supported inquiry.
Saturday is day 388 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Source: PAP, president.gov.ua, The Guardian