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Russia threatens the International Criminal Court with missile strike after it issues arrests warrant for Putin

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Russia is threatening the International Criminal Court (ICC) with a hypersonic missile strike after it issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The arrest warrant issued Friday charges him with war crimes for the forced deportation of children from Ukraine during Russia’s invasion. 

Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council and former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that Russia could easily target the ICC at the Hague, Netherlands, with no chance of igniting a larger war. 

Medvedev wrote on the Telegram channel app that the ICC faced “monstrous consequences” for its actions.

“It is quite possible to imagine the targeted use of a hypersonic ‘Onyx’ [missile] from the North Sea from a Russian ship at the Hague courthouse. It can’t be shot down, I’m afraid,” Medvedev said.

Related: Watch: American HIMARS missiles destroy Russian-occupied bridge

The ICC also issued a warrant for Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, the Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, who was in charge of the deportation of the children. She has repeatedly defended her actions, calling the Ukrainian children Russian.

According to Ukrainian human rights chief Dmytro Lubinets, as many as 16,226 children had been forcibly deported to Russia since the war began in February a year ago.

Although Russia has called the ICC’s arrest warrants void because it is not a signatory to Rome Statute, which established the court, Russia’s top investigative body began criminal cases against the ICC prosecutor Karim Ahmad Khan and judges Tomoko Akane, Rosario Salvatore Aitala, and Sergio Gerardo Ugalde Godínez. The cases charge the ICC prosecutor of knowingly accusing an innocent person of a crime and the judges of deliberately unlawful detention.

Russia reiterated that it does not recognize the ICC or the Rome Statutes and said that it suspects the ICC officials of “preparations for an attack on a representative of a foreign state enjoying international protection in order to complicate international relations.”

Despite the ongoing rhetoric, it is extremely unlikely that Putin will ever be arrested or face charges for Russian war crimes committed in Ukraine. However, the warrant effectively restricts him from traveling to any of the 123 countries that are party to the Rome Statutes, as they are obliged to arrest him if he enters their territory.

Feature Image: Russian President Putin and Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council Medvedev, 2020. (Kremlin Press Office)

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Steve Balestrieri