Broad support in EU-parliament for arresting Putin

Legal - May 13, 2023

The international arrest warrant issued for Russian leader Vladimir Putin has great support in the The European Parliament. He is suspected of having given the order to kidnap thousands of Ukrainian children. It was condemned by all EU countries in a session in the parliament recently.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is accused of war crimes by the the International Criminal Court, ICC, in Hague. The Court issued an arrest warrant against him a month ago. The court argues that Putin is responsible for the illegal deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia. The Russian Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova is also wanted for the same reason. According to information from Ukrainian authorities, around 16,000 Ukrainian children have been kidnapped and taken to custody in Russia.

The European Parliament debated the issue recently.

The children must be returned to Ukraine

The parliamentarians voiced unanimous criticism of the behavior that was condemned.

– Russia is consistently implementing its plan to denationalize Ukrainians, targeting the most vulnerable group – children, said Elżbieta Rafalska, Member of European Parliament (ECR) and former Minister for Social Affairs in Poland.

She underlined that this also was an attack on Ukraine as a nation.

– Russia is presenting this shameful practice as saving Ukrainian children, while in fact it is committing an international crime against the entire Ukrainian nation on another level, aiming at the future of the entire nation. The International Criminal Court investigated the case and issued two arrest warrants in connection with the deportation of Ukrainian children, but their execution depends on international cooperation.

This was seconded by others in the chamber.

– The purpose is to Russify the children and prepare them to be adopted by Russian families. This is part of Putin’s larger plan to erase Ukrainian identity and is a full-scale war crime, said the Swedish parliamentarian David Lega (EPP).

Putin trying to Russify Ukrainian children

Even harsher condemnations were voiced by others in the parliamentary debating chamber in Strasbourg.

– The mass abductions of Ukrainian children by the Russians are strikingly similar to what happened in Poland during World War II. Thousands of Polish children were taken away by the Germans, by the occupier, and given to German families for Germanization.  Now the Russians are trying to Russify Ukrainian children. And it is good that the International Criminal Court defied this and indicted Putin and issued an international arrest warrant, said Beata Szydło former Prime Minster of Poland and now vice chairman for the conservatives (ECR).

– We must help and save these Ukrainian children and do everything so that they return to their families, she concluded.

Other parliamentarians considered that the ICC’s search warrant is an important marker to show that there is no impunity for the war crimes committed in Ukraine by Russia. They hope that this prosecution will follow by several prosecutions of other Russian war crimes.

The overwhelming majority of EU parliamentarians who took part in the debate condemned Russia’s child abductions and welcomed the ICC’s arrest warrant. However, two members followed the Russian propaganda line that Russia only rescues orphans.

All 123 states have ratified or acceded to the Rome Statute and joined the International Criminal Court have the obligation to arrest and hand over Putin and Lvova-Belova to the court in The Hague if they set foot in their soil. Parliamentarians also demanded that the EU introduced sanctions if an EU and ICC member state does not arrest those suspects. In the debate, EU parliamentarian Kinga Gál from the ruling Fidesz party said that Hungary will live up to its international commitments.

A blacklist of child abductors

EU Commissioner Věra Jourová pointed out that the EU blacklisted 16 people for deportation and forced adoptions of Ukrainian children, including Maria Lvova-Belova.

So far, only 161 children have been returned to Ukraine. The Commission, together with Poland, has previously started an initiative to ensure that more people can see their families and homes again.

– Those responsible for the deportation of Ukrainian children have to be brought to trial. And the Ukrainian children have to return to their families and communities safely, stated Jourová.

One other important task is to inform the world what is going on by the Putin regime.

– It cannot be the case that attempts to whitewash Putin or move away from recognizing him as a criminal are succeed, concluded Beata Szydło.