Russian charged with war crimes may brief UN Security Council

UNITED NATIONS – Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges, is likely to brief an informal meeting of the UN Security Council this week, according to a note seen by Reuters on Monday.

Russia, which holds the monthly rotating presidency of the 15-member body for April, told council members in a note that it plans to hold an informal meeting on Wednesday on Ukraine, focused on “evacuating children from conflict zone”.

“Participants will hear ‘first-hand’ information from the Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights of the Russian Federation, as well as from children evacuated from the conflict area,” read the note.

The commissioner is Ms Maria Lvova-Belova.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) last month issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ms Lvova-Belova, accusing them of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine, as well as the unlawful transfer of people to Russia from Ukraine since Moscow invaded on Feburary 24, 2022.

“They cannot invite a credible briefer because they do not have any credibility on this issue,” Britain’s Deputy UN Ambassador James Kariuki told Reuters in a statement.

“Russian leaders have been charged by the ICC with unlawfully deporting children from Ukraine to Russia. That is a war crime.”

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said on Monday that the meeting briefers would be announced shortly.

Such meetings are held at UN headquarters, but not in the Security Council chamber, and briefings can be done virtually.

‘April Fool’s joke’

Moscow has not concealed a programme under which it has brought thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia but presents it as a humanitarian campaign to protect orphans and children abandoned in the conflict zone.

Mr Nebenzia told reporters last month that the informal meeting of Security Council members to be held on Wednesday had been planned long before the ICC announcement, and it was not intended to be a rebuttal of the charges against Mr Putin and Ms Lvova-Belova.

While a feature of Russia’s presidency, members do not need to be the rotating monthly president to hold such meetings.

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