tirsdag 21. mars 2023

The Observer view on how Xi Jinping plans to use his meeting with war crimes suspect Vladimir Putin

The welcome and overdue indictment of Vladimir Putin for war crimes allegedly committed in Ukraine confirms his position as a global outlaw. The decision by the international criminal court (ICC) is unlikely to lead to his arrest and trial in the foreseeable future. But it does ensure that, from now on, Russia’s president will be a criminal suspect and wanted man, liable to arrest in the ICC’s 123 member states and a huge embarrassment to his country.

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.