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  • Writer's pictureJanine di Giovanni

Why the War Crimes Charges Against Vladimir Putin Are So Significant

The Hague’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for the Russian leader reverberates far beyond Moscow and Ukraine.

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This is not an April Fool’s joke.

On April 1, Vladimir Putin’s hand-picked ambassador to the United Nations will take over as president of the UN Security Council. This is a position that rotates among the member states of the council. Ironically, Russia also held the same position in February 2022––the same month Putin gave the orders for the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a sovereign country.

That same Vladimir Putin is now wanted by The Hague. On March 17, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for the Russian president and his henchwoman Maria Lvova-Belova, a key figure in an initiative to ship Ukrainian children to Russia.

It’s hard to take that much hypocrisy in one go. The validity of the Russian Federation’s place on the Security Council is open to debate; there are many in diplomatic circles who believe the RF resides there illegally. But the federation bulldozed its way into its position on the council in December 1991, once the former Soviet Union—which had held a permanent seat as a result of the 1945 United Nations Charter—vaporized.

Back then, there was no debate and no constitutional ruling. In this case, as in many, Russia got what Russia wanted. Still, the news from The Hague on St. Patrick’s Day was more than “an important moment”—the words of Piotr Hofmański, the International Criminal Court’s president. It was monumental.

Read the full story in Vanity Fair here.


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