Putin’s command responsibility for thousands of heinous war crimes committed in Ukraine has been clear from the start of the war he launched. He and his henchmen have denied any culpability. Russia does not recognise the ICC. The decision to indict Putin for the illegal deportation of children, rather than other crimes, reflects the strength of evidence in these specific cases. But additional charges should and must follow.
It is a relief that the ICC prosecutor and judges have not bowed to pressure to withhold or delay charges for fear of jeopardising a notional future peace process. Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, has argued that Putin should not be “humiliated”. But Putin has blocked peace talks and, in any event, the two issues should not be conflated. Striking an important blow for international justice, the court has shown there is no impunity for even the most senior leaders.