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Biden says Putin committed war crimes, calls charges justified

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By Jeff Mason and Simon Lewis

WASHINGTON (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden said on Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had clearly committed war crimes and the decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant against him was justified.

The ICC on Friday called for Putin’s arrest on suspicion of illegal deportation of children and the illegal transfer of people from Ukraine to Russia since the start of its neighbor’s invasion of Moscow last year. The United States is not a member of the ICC.

“He has clearly committed war crimes,” Biden told reporters, referring to Putin.

“Well, I think it’s justified,” Biden added, referring to the mandate. “But the question is, it’s not even internationally recognized by us. But I think it’s a very strong point.”

The United States has separately concluded that Russian forces committed war crimes in Ukraine and claims responsibility for the perpetrators of war crimes, a State Department spokesman said in an emailed statement.

“There is no question that Russia is committing war crimes and atrocities (in) Ukraine, and we have been clear that those responsible must be held accountable,” the spokesman added. “This was a decision that the ICC prosecutor reached independently based on the facts before him.”

The move by the International Criminal Court obliges the 123 member states of the court to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot on their territory. The ICC also issued a warrant on Friday for Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s children’s rights commissioner, on the same charges.

A US-backed report by Yale University researchers last month said Russia has been keeping at least 6,000 Ukrainian children in at least 43 camps and other facilities as part of a “large-scale systematic network”.

Russia has denied allegations that its forces committed atrocities during its invasion. The Kremlin said on Friday that the ICC’s arrest warrant against Putin was outrageous, but meaningless in relation to Russia.

(Reporting by Simon Lewis, Jeff Mason and Kanishka Singh; Editing by Chris Reese, Will Dunham and Cynthia Osterman)

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