Russia opens criminal case against ICC judges, prosecutor over Putin arrest warrant

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March 20 (Reuters) – Russia’s Investigative Committee said on Monday that it had opened a criminal case against the International Criminal Court prosecutor and judges who on Friday issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on war crimes charges.

The committee, responsible for investigating serious crimes, said there were no grounds for criminal liability on Putin’s part, and heads of state enjoyed absolute immunity from the jurisdiction of foreign states.

The ICC prosecutor’s actions showed signs of being crimes under Russian law, the committee said – knowingly accusing an innocent person of a crime, and “preparing an attack on a representative of a foreign state enjoying international protection, in order to complicate international relations”.

The Russian action is a symbolic gesture of defiance in response to the warrant issued against Putin on Friday, which accused him and his children’s commissioner of the war crime of deporting children from Ukraine to Russia.

The Kremlin has called the move outrageous but legally void, as Russia is not a signatory to the treaty that created the ICC.

In Other Developments:


* Chinese President Xi Jinping flew into Moscow on Monday where he was expected to press Beijing’s role as a potential peacemaker in the Ukraine conflict while Russian President Vladimir Putin hoped for support against Western pressure.

* Xi will be the first world leader to shake Putin’s hand since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for the Russian leader on Friday over the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia since the start of the war. Moscow rejects the charge.

* In an article, Xi said China’s proposal to end the Ukraine crisis reflects global views and seeks to neutralise consequences, but he acknowledged that the solutions are not easy.

* In a Chinese newspaper piece published on the Kremlin website late on Sunday, Putin said he had high hopes for the visit by his “good old friend” Xi.

* China’s proposal contains only general statements and no concrete detail on how to end the year-long war which has claimed tens of thousands of lives and forced millions to flee.

* The United States and its Western allies are deeply sceptical of China’s motives, noting it has declined to condemn Russia and provided it with an economic lifeline.


* Justice ministers from around the world will meet in London on Monday to discuss scaling up support for the International Criminal Court after it issued an arrest warrant for Putin.

* The European Union is seeking a deal on the joint procurement of ammunition for Ukraine at a meeting of the bloc’s foreign and defence ministers in Brussels.

* After U.S. sources said Chinese ammunition was being used by Russian forces, Beijing countered that it was the United States, not the Chinese, supplying arms to the Ukraine battlefield.

* Putin’s administration has told officials to stop using Apple iPhones because of concerns the devices are vulnerable to Western intelligence agencies. “Either throw it away or give it to the children,” the Kommersant newspaper quoted a participant of the meeting as saying.


* Fierce fighting continued in the eastern town of Bakhmut with each side launching counter offensives. Ukrainian forces have held out in Bakhmut since last summer in the longest and bloodiest battle of the year-long war.

* Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, which is spearheading the assault on Bakhmut and has suffered heavy losses, plans to recruit some 30,000 new fighters by mid-May.

* Ukrainian officials have claimed that some 30,000 of Wagner’s fighters have deserted or been killed or wounded, a figure that could not be independently verified.

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