Will Vladimir Putin ever be arrested? The International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Friday March 17 that it had issued an arrest warrant against the Russian president for his responsibility for war crimes perpetrated in Ukraine since the Russian invasion.
In a statement, the ICC considered that Vladimir Putin “is presumed responsible for the war crime of illegal deportation of population (children) and illegal transfer of population (children) from the occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation”. Furthermore, “the crimes were allegedly committed in occupied Ukrainian territory at least from February 24, 2022,” the ICC continued, adding that there were “reasonable grounds to believe that Vladimir Putin is personally responsible for the aforementioned crimes.” .
Putin in Crimea for the 9th anniversary of the annexation
Vladimir Putin was in Crimea this Saturday March 18 for the 9th anniversary of the annexation of this Ukrainian peninsula by Russia. This surprise trip is the first trip of the master of the Kremlin to Crimea since the outbreak of the Russian offensive in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, which earned Russia a series of severe international sanctions, added to those already imposed following of the 2014 annexation.
Arrived in Sevastopol, home port of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, Vladimir Putin notably attended the inauguration ceremony of a school of arts for children in the company of the local governor, Mikhail Razvojayev, according to the images broadcast by the public television channel Rossia-1. This city being located only about 240 km from Kherson, a southern Ukrainian city taken over by the army of Kiev in November 2022 after the withdrawal of Russian forces, this trip by Vladimir Putin is also the first made in a place so close to the front line.
Erdogan announces extension of Ukrainian grain deal
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday the extension of the international agreement on the export of Ukrainian cereals without specifying the duration. “Following talks with the two parties (Editor’s note: Ukraine and Russia), we ensured the extension of the agreement which was to end on March 19,” said the Turkish head of state in a televised speech. . Ankara previously said it hoped for a 120-day extension while Russia insisted on 60 days.
“This agreement is of vital importance for the world food supply. I thank Russia and Ukraine, who have spared no effort for a further extension of the agreement, as well as the Secretary General of the United Nations”, said Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure thanked this Saturday the UN and Turkey for the extension of the international agreement on the export of Ukrainian cereals. “The Black Sea Grain Initiative is extended for 120 days. We thank UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and (Turkish Defense Minister) Hulusi Akar and all our partners, for confirming this agreement,” Oleksandr Kubrakov wrote on Twitter.
This agreement signed in July 2022 by Ukraine, Russia and Turkey, with the help of the UN, alleviated the world food crisis caused by the war in Ukraine by allowing the export of almost 25 million tons corn, wheat and other cereals.
Ukraine targeted by new drone attacks
Ukraine, in particular the Lviv region in the west, was the target of a night attack by Iranian-made drones, the Ukrainian air force said on Saturday. “At around 9 p.m. on March 17, 2023, the Russian invaders attacked Ukraine with Iranian-made Shahed-136/131 type kamikaze attack drones,” according to a statement broadcast on Telegram. Eleven out of 16 drones were “destroyed”, assured the army. The attacks were launched from the Sea of Azov and from the Russian region of Bryansk, which borders Ukraine to the north, she added.
The Lviv region (west) was particularly targeted. “Around 1 a.m., our region was attacked by Shahed 136-type suicide drones,” regional governor Maksym Kozytski said. Three drones were shot down, three others “hit non-residential buildings” in the Yavoriv district, causing damage but no casualties, he added.
In the Dnipro region (southeast), three drones were shot down by air defense, said the head of the regional council, Mykola Lukashuk. “Two others hit critical infrastructure in Novomoskovsk”, north of Dnipro, which caused a fire and “significant” damage, four houses destroyed and six others damaged, but no injuries, he added. . The drones launched on Kiev were “all” “destroyed” by “our air defense forces”, without causing any casualties or damage, the city administration said on social networks.
Russia rules arrest warrant has no legal value
Senior Russian officials on Friday rejected the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court against Vladimir Putin, saying it had no legal value for Russia. “Russia, like a number of states, does not recognize the jurisdiction of this court, therefore, from the point of view of law, the decisions of this court are null and void,” the doorman told reporters. -spokesman of the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov. He considered that the very idea of an arrest of Vladimir Putin was “scandalous and unacceptable”.
The spokeswoman for Russian diplomacy, Maria Zakharova, spoke of a decision by the ICC “meaningless”, “including from a legal point of view”. “Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and has no obligations under it,” she stressed on Telegram, adding that Moscow “does not cooperate” with the court based in the Netherlands. She warned that “arrest (warrants) issued by the International Criminal Court will be legally insignificant” for Russia.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has compared the ICC arrest warrant to toilet paper. “The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin. No need to explain where this paper should be used,” he wrote on Twitter in English.
Arrest warrant ‘is warranted,’ Biden says
On the other hand, for Joe Biden, the arrest warrant issued by the ICC for war crimes is “justified”. The American president, speaking to journalists at the White House, recalled that the institution was not recognized by the United States, but considered that his decision nevertheless sent “a very strong signal”.
For his part, the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell indicated that the arrest warrant against the Russian president was “an important decision”. This decision “is only the beginning of the process to bring Russia and its leader to account for the crimes and atrocities they are committing in Ukraine. There can be no impunity”, he said. he argued.
Slovakia to deliver 13 MiG-29s to Ukraine
Slovakia will deliver 13 Soviet-designed MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine, its prime minister announced on Friday. “We will hand over 13 of our MiG-29s to Ukraine,” Eduard Heger told reporters, adding that the move was “fully coordinated with Poland and Ukraine.” Poland said Thursday that it would send “in the coming days” a first batch of four MiG-29s.
“We are giving these MiGs to Ukraine so that they can protect civilians from the many bombs that fall on their homes and which are the reason why people are dying in Ukraine,” the prime minister said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Eduard Heger for a “powerful package of air weapons and air defense, including MiG aircraft”. kyiv has repeatedly asked its Western allies to send it modern fighter-bombers, hoping to get American F-16s. The Kremlin immediately denounced an “increasing involvement” of NATO countries in the conflict with kyiv and assured that these devices will be “destroyed”.