The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as Russian official Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, in relation to allegations of a scheme to deport Ukrainian children to Russia amid the Kremlin's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
A statement from the court obtained by CNN said there were "reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility” for the alleged crimes, for having committed them directly alongside others, and for “his failure to exercise control properly over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts.”
The arrest warrant serves as the first war crime charges formally levied against Putin in relation to the unprovoked invasion on Ukraine, which was launched in February 2022. An estimated 345 Ukrainian children are reported to have disappeared from their homes since the Kremlin's attack began.
Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of forcibly taking the missing children. Russian officials didn't deny the accusations and has shared stories of adoptions by Russian families through government media outlets.
Ukraine had reportedly pushed for the ICC to seek an arrest warrant for Putin and other Russian officials in relation to war crimes prior to Friday's decision, a senior Ukrainian official told CNN.
Putin announced his country would conduct military operations in Eastern Ukraine during an NBC News translation of a speech addressing the Russian population in Moscow on February 24, 2022. The announcement served as the final action ahead of an attack by the Russian military, which the U.S. and European allies to the neighboring Ukraine have attempted to prevent from taking place through diplomatic discussions.