Ukraine’s prosecutor general called on international leaders to obey an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, as South Africa expressed frustration ahead of a summer summit in which Putin is set to attend.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued the warrant for Putin’s arrest last month, along with Russia’s Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova, for the allegedly unlawful deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.
“The arrest warrant to Putin shows that no one could be above the law,” Andriy Kostin said Wednesday in a conversation with the Washington Post’s Live series, calling on all state members of the ICC’s Rome Statute to execute the warrant.
“If they intentionally don’t want to do it, it shows that they are not fair and they are not honest. And that for them, probably, justice is just a word.”
The comments come as South African leaders expressed concern Wednesday over how to handle an upcoming BRICs summit set for August, in which leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are on the guest list.
“All heads of state would be expected to attend the summit. But now we have a spanner in the works in the form of this ICC warrant,” Vincent Magwenya, spokesperson for South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, said in a Wednesday press briefing, AFP reported.
“What that dictates is that there be further engagements, in terms of how that is going to be managed and those engagements are underway. Once they’ve been concluded, the necessary announcements will be made,” he added.
South Africa has refused to condemn Russia;s invasion of Ukraine, remaining neutral on the conflict while calling for dialogue to end the war.
Kostin argued criminal proceedings are the best tool to hold Russian authorities accountable for the deportation and abduction of over 16,000 Ukrainian children.
“From my point of view, the main goal is to return Ukrainian children to their families and to their country,” the Ukrainian prosecutor said. “And we also need to do it as soon as possible because for many of them, who are very small and young, in some years it will be very difficult to change their national identification.”
In response to leaked documents from the Pentagon that discussed weaknesses in Ukraine’s defenses, Kostin emphasized the importance of unity between Ukraine and its allies going forward and said the leak “means nothing” regarding criminal investigations.
“We will go ahead with our joint efforts to make Russia accountable,” Kostin said.
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