International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan said he believes Russia is treating children like “spoils of war."
Last week, the ICC announced arrest warrants against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian children's rights commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova for their roles in allegedly illegally deporting Ukrainian children to Russia.
The Rome Statute of the Geneva Conventions makes it clear "you can’t deport civilians to a foreign country,” Khan said.
Moscow has rejected the warrants, with a spokesperson for the ministry of foreign affairs previously saying that “Russia is not a member of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and bears no obligations under it."
“You must look after them," Khan said of Ukrainian children. "If they are not safe, you move them to a safe part of Ukraine. If that’s not possible, a neutral third country. And it seems to be not just deportation to Russian Federation, they’re met by strangers who now have suddenly become adopted parents. And the children are not property, they’re not the spoils of war.”
The prosecutor said Russia does not seem to be denying the allegations against it but rather wearing it “like a badge of honor."
“Children are not the property of a country to be dispatched based on politics or some ideological motives. It needs to be regulated by law, and that law needs to be enforced,” Khan said.
He said the ICC has since reached out to Russia, but it has not heard back.