“There is no statute of limitations for war crimes,” says chief prosecutor Karim Khan. The arrest warrant will hang on Putin for the rest of his life. The Kremlin has responded.
According to chief prosecutor Karim Khan, the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court against Russian President Vladimir Putin will remain valid even after the end of the Russian war against Ukraine. “There is no statute of limitations for war crimes,” Khan told BBC Radio 4.
That was one of the principles of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal after the Second World War. “Individuals – wherever they are in the world – need to recognize that there is law and that with authority comes responsibility,” said the Brit.
The arrest warrants would attach Putin and Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, to life for the rest of their lives, Khan stressed. “Unless they face the independent judges of the court, and the judges decide on the merits to dismiss a case – but otherwise: absolutely, yes,” he said when asked.
Kremlin is “calm”
The Kremlin is unimpressed: “We’re registering that. But if we took every hostile statement to heart, it wouldn’t lead to anything good,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, according to a report by the Interfax news agency. The Russian leadership is “calm” about the matter.
The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin and Lvowa-Belowa on Friday at Khan’s request for alleged war crimes in Ukraine. They are allegedly responsible for the deportation of Ukrainian children from occupied territories to Russia. Above all, the arrest warrants have a symbolic meaning, and a trial currently seems out of the question.
British lawyer Geoffey Nice, chief prosecutor of former Serbian head of state Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague, said the arrest warrant had labeled Putin as a wanted criminal. “The tag will stick for life unless he is tried and acquitted or, almost inconceivable, the International Criminal Court withdraws the warrant,” Nice told Sky News. The arrest warrant is a “very, very important and very welcome step”.
China calls on Criminal Court to exercise caution
China has called on the International Criminal Court to act cautiously after the arrest warrant. The criminal court in The Hague should “take an objective and fair position” and respect the immunity of heads of state under international law, said a spokesman for Beijing’s foreign ministry. The Criminal Court must “exercise its powers prudently and in accordance with the law”. Politicization and double standards must be avoided.
China is considered a close ally of Russia. Putin receives Chinese head of state and party leader Xi Jinping for a three-day state visit to the Moscow Kremlin on Monday. Against the background of the Russian war in Ukraine, according to the Kremlin, the talks scheduled until Wednesday are about the development of a comprehensive partnership and better strategic cooperation between Russia and China.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.