An arrest warrant has been issued for Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes over the mass abduction of Ukrainian children.

The International Criminal Court (ICC), the establishment of which Putin himself voted on, defines five acts of genocide, sixteen acts of crimes against humanity, and eleven acts of war crimes. The mass transfer of children being removed from Ukraine and placed in Russian families and care homes, often many hundreds of miles from the border, falls under each of these.

According to a statement by the ICC, Putin personally “is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of (children) and that of unlawful transfer of (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”

The court statement said that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Putin bears individual criminal responsibility” for the child abductions “for having committed the acts directly, jointly with others and/or through others” and for failing to “exercise control properly over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts.”

Russia has been removing children from Ukraine since their Crimea takeover in 2014. Estimates of how many range between 13,000 and 307,000, with at least 800 documented deaths and disappearances in the process. Children are told their Ukrainian parents either died or rejected them, and often forcibly adopted to Russian parents or put in summer camps for ‘patriotic education.’

According to Russian officials, the children being relocated are Russian children and they are removing them from war zones for their own safety. They condemn the intentional community for suggesting they should leave them in danger (from the Russian-committed invasion).

World leaders have been indicted by the ICC before, but this is the first time that an arrest warrant has been issued against the leaders of any of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. The ICC has no authority to make an arrest itself, but now any U.N. member nation could arrest Vladimir Putin if he steps foot on their soil.

Photo: oliverdelahaye / Shutterstock