The March 20 Moscow meeting between China’s President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin was upstaged and ruined on March 17 when the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant to arrest Putin for war crimes involving tens of thousands of Ukrainians. This is a stunning development that demolishes his reputation for all time by accusing him personally of committing despicable acts involving kids, intentionally torn from their families and culture. Large-scale child abuse, based on ethnicity, constitutes genocide, and will most certainly impede any hope of a closer alliance with China.
“This is significant and also embarrassing for China”, commented former U.S. Ambassador to NATO and Ukraine expert Kurt Volker, “when it is deliberately trying to position itself as neutral and an honest broker in peace talks. The preamble to China’s proposed peace plan begins with a statement about upholding respect for territorial integrity.”
Of course, the Kremlin immediately rejected the allegations and pointed out that the warrant is unenforceable because Russia dropped its involvement with the ICC in 2014 after its judges condemned the illegal annexation of Crimea. Even so, it has reach. The accused “war criminal” may not be nabbed at one of his palaces or dachas, but he won’t be going to any of the 123 countries that are signatories to the ICC because he will be arrested, incarcerated, and extradited to The Hague to stand trial. These include 18 Eastern European countries, 25 Western European, 33 African, 19 Asia-Pacific, and 28 in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Worse, the day before ICC’s bombshell, a UN-based inquiry provided evidence of Russian war crimes. These involved the mass kidnappings, but also the atrocities against civilians in occupied regions who have been murdered, tortured, and inhumanly incarcerated. The ICC, however, uniquely singled out Putin, and his minister of “child welfare”, and stated: “There are reasonable grounds to believe that each suspect bears responsibility for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population and that of unlawful transfer of population from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, in prejudice of Ukrainian children.” The pre-trial statement by judges added that Putin failed to “exercise control properly over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts, or allowed for their commission, and who were under his effective authority and control.”
Putin and Russia have clearly committed genocide under the United Nations’ definition contained in Article II of the Convention: “Genocide is a crime committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, or racial or religious group, in whole or in part.”
Reports are the judges considered issuing secret warrants, but decided that making them public could “contribute to the prevention of the further commission of crimes”. The evidence is overwhelming. Since the first foray and massacres by Russia into Bucha and Irpin outside Kyiv, Ukraine began conducting its own investigations, with the help of 33 other nations. To date, they have documented 74,000 war crimes. In addition, another probe, by the Associated Press (AP) over many months, uncovered the reason why Putin has been indicted by the ICC.
AP reported in October that “Russian law prohibits the adoption of foreign children without consent of the home country, which Ukraine has not given. But in May, Putin signed a decree making it easier for Russia to adopt and give citizenship to Ukrainian children without parental care — and harder for Ukraine and surviving relatives to win them back. Russia also prepared a register of suitable Russian families for Ukrainian children, and paid them for each child who gets citizenship — up to $1,000 for those with disabilities. It holds summer camps for Ukrainian orphans, offers `patriotic education’ classes and even runs a hotline to pair Russian families with children from Donbas.”
AP conducted interviews with family members in Ukraine and Russia and scoured documents and media reports. “Russia’s open effort to adopt Ukrainian children and bring them up as Russian is already well underway, in one of the most explosive issues of the war,” the newswire service concluded. “Thousands of children have been found in the basements of war-torn cities like Mariupol and at orphanages in the Russian-backed separatist territories of Donbas. They include those whose parents were killed by Russian shelling as well as others in institutions or with foster families, known as `children of the state’.”
AP also explained Russia’s cover-up: “Russia claims that these children don’t have parents or guardians to look after them, or that they can’t be reached. But the AP found that officials have deported Ukrainian children to Russia or Russian-held territories without consent, lied to them that they weren’t wanted by their parents, used them for propaganda, and given them Russian families and citizenship,” it wrote.
The anguish is unfathomable for the families and the nation itself. Mariupol had a population of 425,681 people in January 2022, but was obliterated by the Russians. “It is absolutely a terrible story,” said a local official Petro Andryushchenko, who claims hundreds of children were taken from that city alone. “We don’t know if our children have an official parent or (stepparents) or something else because they are forcibly disappeared by Russian troops.”
No self-respecting leader or country can support Putin or Russia. For China’s Xi, the timing of these revelations couldn’t come at a worse time and are likely to derail any plans, even covert, to ship weaponry to Russia. The unprovoked invasion of Ukraine makes a mockery of Xi’s avowed belief in territorial integrity. Further, Putin will go down in history, with Hitler and Pol Pot, as a monster who regarded his victim’s children as spoils of war. He, and his rotten regime, are barbaric on an unimaginable scale because, for the first time, their predations have been televised and photographed for all the world to see.
Negotiations with Putin are inconceivable. A cease-fire would be unconscionable because it would allow him to keep what he has stolen from Ukrainians. Peace is not possible. Only defeat or a firing squad will end Putin’s ethnic cleansing. Russia is truly the Evil Empire.
Reprinted with the author’s permission from Diane Francis Newsletter on America and the World
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The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.
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