Connect with us

Published

on

An arrest warrant issued against Russian President Vladimir Putin is the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) “first shot” in what could be a substantial indictment against him, Ukraine’s leading lawyer has said.

The intergovernmental group – based at The Hague – has accused Mr Putin of being responsible for the abduction of children from Ukraine.

An arrest warrant was also issued for Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, Russia‘s commissioner for children, on similar allegations of war crimes.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Vladimir Putin seen for the first time since ICC arrest warrant

Speaking to Sky News, the lead lawyer for the government of Ukraine, Ben Emmerson, said he believes there are two reasons why the arrest warrant against Mr Putin has been issued now.

He said the immediate timing seems to have been the decision by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations in Geneva “to publish a report detailing what the judges believe to be Russian war crimes committed in Ukraine – including the allegations of the forced transfer of children from Ukraine into Russia as a war crime”.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Vladmir Putin visits Crimea

Mr Emmerson said the other dimension to the timing of the arrest warrant is “sometimes when indictments are issued, they are sealed”.

“In other words, they’re not made public. But increasingly, we have seen indictments being issued against leaders during an ongoing conflict that happened in relation to the indictment against General Gaddafi, for example, during the Libyan uprising.”

Putin at risk of ‘being held accountable’

He said that it has to be recognised that issuing an indictment against a sitting head of state in the midst of an armed conflict is to “some extent affecting the conduct or aimed to affect the conduct of those involved”.

“In other words, this is clearly the first shot in what might be eventually a much more substantial indictment against President Putin,” said Mr Emmerson.

He went on to say that he believes the main aim is to make Mr Putin and those around him aware of “the very real risk that exists of being held accountable criminally in due course”.

On whether he thinks the narrow charges were a strategic move by the ICC, he said that Karim Khan, the head prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, has made it clear in the role that he intends to act “not on a political basis, but on the basis of prosecutable cases”.

“In other words, he would choose cases that he was very confident could be won and won with evidential support,” said Mr Emmerson.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

How Russia ‘stole’ Ukrainian kids

Russian leadership makes ‘erratic and belligerent moves’

Mr Emmerson suspects that the reason why this particular charge has been selected in the indictment against Mr Putin is that “proving his responsibility for this and indeed the responsibility of the children’s commissioner is straightforward”.

Asked whether the arrest warrant could offer some kind of hope for Ukrainian families getting their children back, Mr Emmerson said that he is always sceptical because “one thing that seems reasonably clear is that [Russian authorities] are often very unpredictable”.

“But that said, these children have been unlawfully taken and in breach of humanitarian law. They have been effectively kidnapped. It is not the first time Russia has done this – it did this during the 2014 war in Donbas.”

He added that “when the situation of lawlessness is as it is at the moment, and the Russian troops and authorities and indeed the Russian leadership are behaving with increasingly erratic and belligerent moves, everything remains unpredictable”.

‘Putin clearly committed war crimes’

The arrest warrant comes after US President Joe Biden described the ICC’s decision to issue it as “justified”.

The Kremlin said Russia, which does not recognise the ICC, found the questions raised by the court “outrageous and unacceptable”.

Read more:
Putin’s ‘child snatcher’ and other fugitives wanted by International Criminal Court
Vladimir Putin visits Crimea on anniversary of region’s annexation from Ukraine

But Mr Biden, speaking at a news conference on Friday, said: “He’s [Putin] clearly committed war crimes.

“I think it’s justified [the warrant]. But the question is – it’s not recognised internationally by us either. But I think it makes a very strong point.”

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Putin ‘clearly committed war crimes’

Though both Russia and the US were once signatories to the Rome Statute – the treaty that established the ICC – the US has never ratified the agreement, while Russia withdrew after the court’s criticism of its 2014 annexation of Crimea.

Alongside the ICC arrest warrant, the US has separately concluded that Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine.

Click to subscribe to Ukraine War Diaries wherever you get your podcasts

“There is no doubt that Russia is committing war crimes and atrocities [in] Ukraine, and we have been clear that those responsible must be held accountable,” a State Department spokesperson said.

Russia said the ICC’s warrants were “null and void” as it does not recognise the court.

Meanwhile, Ms Lvova-Belova said her arrest warrant validated her work “helping the children of our country”.

The allegations come as Russia prepares to celebrate the ninth anniversary of its 2014 annexation of Crimea, which Mr Putin is expected to mark with a “patriotic” rally at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium this weekend.

Continue Reading

World

Sydney stabbings attack: Hundreds of mourners gather at candlelight vigil

Published

on

By

Sydney stabbings attack: Hundreds of mourners gather at candlelight vigil

Mourners gathered to pay tribute to the six killed in a stabbing at an Australian shopping mall.

New South Wales Police identified the man behind the attack at the Westfield Shopping Centre in Bondi Junction on 13 April as Joel Cauchi, 40.

He was shot and killed by an officer after fatally stabbing six people – five women and one man – and injuring several others, including a nine-month-old baby.

Eight days after the attack, hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil on Bondi Beach in Sydney, where Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese paid respects to those killed.

Anthony Albanese addresses a candlelight vigil at Sydney's Bondi Beach. Pic: AP
Image:
.Pic: AP

Pic: AP
Image:
Pic: AP

Mr Albanese said the gathering was “to grieve for all that has been stolen from us”.

“All that has been stolen from us, all the possibility and potential, all the kindness and humanity, all the love and laughter of the six lives snatched away,” the prime minister added.

“To honour all they were and respect all they meant, all the years of joy they should have known, all the memories they should have a chance to make.”

Pic: AP
Image:
Pic: AP

Mourners hold candles at a vigil for victims of the Bondi shopping mall stabbing. Pic: AP
Image:
Pic: AP

After Mr Albanese’s speech, the crowd took part in a minute’s silence before New South Wales (NSW) premier Chris Minns said “this week we saw a single bouquet left on Oxford Street grow into a sea of flowers”.

He also said the vigil would be an opportunity to “stand by those that have lost loved ones and remember those that have been killed.”

Amy Scott, the NSW police officer who killed Cauchi, was in attendance in the vigil.

Amy Scott, who shot and killed the Sydney stabbing attacker, at the vigil. Pic: Reuters
Image:
Pic: Reuters

Amy Scott at the Community Candlelight Vigil with other police officers. Pic: Reuters
Image:
Pic: Reuters

Five of the six killed were women, and authorities previously said they are looking into the possibility that Cauchi targeted women in the attack.

NSW officials named the victims as Ashlee Good, 38, Dawn Singleton, 25, Jade Young, 47, Pikria Darchia, 55, Cheng Yixuan, 25 and on-duty Westfield security guard Faraz Tahir, 30.

Read more from Sky News:
‘A very sick boy’: Attacker’s parents apologise
Thousands in Canary Islands call for limit on tourism

(Clockwise) Yixuan Cheng, Dawn Singleton, Ashlee Good, Faraz Tahir, Pikria Darchia and  Jade Young
Image:
(Clockwise) Yixuan Cheng, Dawn Singleton, Ashlee Good, Faraz Tahir, Pikria Darchia and Jade Young

Ms Good tried to save her nine-month-old baby Harriet when she was attacked by the 40-year-old – who suffered from schizophrenia.

She was said to have passed her baby to two men after she was badly injured.

It comes after NSW health minister Ryan Park shared on Sunday evening that the baby has been released from hospital.

Follow Sky News on WhatsApp
Follow Sky News on WhatsApp

Keep up with all the latest news from the UK and around the world by following Sky News

Tap here

“I can confirm the child who has been receiving care at Sydney Children’s Hospital following last weekend’s tragic events at Bondi Junction has been discharged home,” he said in a statement.

“She continues to receive care from the expert clinicians at Sydney Children’s Hospital.”

Continue Reading

World

Crucial $60.8bn Ukraine aid package approved by US House of Representatives after months of deadlock

Published

on

By

Crucial .8bn Ukraine aid package approved by US House of Representatives after months of deadlock

The US House of Representatives has approved sending $60.8bn (£49bn) in foreign aid to Ukraine.

Democrats and Republicans joined together after months of deadlock over renewed American support to help Ukraine fend off Russia’s invasion.

Representatives could be seen waving small Ukrainian flags as it became clear the package was going to pass.

Representatives wave Ukrainian flags
Image:
Representatives wave Ukrainian flags

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted to say he was “grateful” for the decision, which he said “keeps history on the right track”.

He said: “Democracy and freedom will always have global significance and will never fail as long as America helps to protect it.

“The vital US aid bill passed today by the House will keep the war from expanding, save thousands and thousands of lives, and help both of our nations to become stronger.”

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

‘Grateful’ Zelenskyy reacts to US aid

Representatives also approved bills to send foreign aid to Israel and provide humanitarian relief to Palestinians in Gaza, give security assistance to Taiwan and allies in the Indo-Pacific, and a measure containing several foreign policy proposals including a threat to ban Chinese-owned social media app TikTok.

The package will now go to the US Senate, where it is likely to be passed on Tuesday. President Joe Biden has then promised to sign it immediately.

“I urge the Senate to quickly send this package to my desk so that I can sign it into law and we can quickly send weapons and equipment to Ukraine to meet their urgent battlefield needs,” Mr Biden said.

What aid package means for Ukraine after profound impact of delay

The impact of this American blockage has been profound.

I have had multiple conversations with diplomats and military officials in Washington DC and all have said the same thing: the situation for Ukraine is depressing, Russia has the upper hand and prospects for Kyiv, without more weapons, are bleak.

The Ukrainians have been running low on all weapons types, even small arms – bullets for their soldiers’ rifles.

Before the House of Representatives approved the $60.8bn aid package on Saturday, it had been more than 480 days since Congress last passed a bill allowing for American weapons to be sent to Ukraine.

There was a White House budgetary fudge earlier this year which freed up some more cash from an existing bill and allowed for some more weapons to be sent. But it wasn’t enough.

Read more of Mark Stone’s analysis here.

Bill will ‘further ruin’ Ukraine, Russia warns

Moscow said the passage of the bill would “further ruin” Ukraine and result in more deaths.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the TASS news agency a provision allowing Washington to confiscate seized Russian assets and transfer them to Ukraine for reconstruction would tarnish the image of the US.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Major Russian strike on Ukraine kills eight

‘Ukraine can and will win’

UK Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron said the funding was “a vital step forward”.

“If Putin ever doubted the West’s resolve to back Ukraine, this shows our collective will is undimmed,” he tweeted.

“With support, Ukraine can and will win.”

But Donald Trump ally Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican representative who has opposed helping Ukraine in its war against Russia, said “people have been too obsessed with voting for foreign wars and the war industry”.

Speaking after the vote passed, she said: “This is the sellout of America today. When we had members of Congress in there waving the Ukrainian flag on the United States House of Representatives floor, while we’re doing nothing to secure our border, I think every American is going to be furious.”

Mr Biden first requested the funding in October, as Ukraine’s military supplies began to dwindle.

In February, Mr Zelenskyy urged Congress to pass the funding, saying if it did not “it will leave me wondering what world we are living in”.

Continue Reading

World

Iran foreign minister downplays Israeli attack and says drones used ‘like children’s toys’

Published

on

By

Iran foreign minister downplays Israeli attack and says drones used 'like children's toys'

Iran has said Israeli involvement in Friday’s attack is still to be established and dismissed the drones used as like children’s toys.

Foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian claimed they took off from within Iran and only flew a few hundred metres before being shot down.

Israel hasn’t commented but is widely believed to be behind the strike targeting an airbase and nuclear site near Isfahan.

Middle East latest: Worshippers in Tehran chant ‘death to Israel’

The US told a G7 meeting that Israel had told it about the attack “at the last minute”.

Israel had been weighing up how to respond to Iran’s unprecedented drone and missile attack on Israel last weekend – with Western powers urging restraint.

“It has not been proved to us that there is a connection between these and Israel,” Mr Amir-Abdollahian told Sky’s US partner NBC News.

More on Iran

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Israel wanted to ‘send a message’

Iran said its air defences destroyed three drones and reported no damage or casualties.

The foreign minister said they were “more like toys that our children play with” than a serious threat, as he sought to play down the threat.

Authorities and media in Iran have described it as an attack by unknown “infiltrators”, dismissing the notion it was an Israeli offensive that bypassed its border defences.

Experts have said the modest, targeted strike appeared designed to avoid further escalation and it appears – for now – to have dampened fears of direct war.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

‘Blasts’ shown over Iran

‘If not, then we are done’

Mr Amir-Abdollahian said Iran was still investigating the attack and reiterated Israeli retaliation would mean an immediate and severe response – “but if not, then we are done. We are concluded”.

Meanwhile, the former head of Israel’s national security council said he didn’t believe there would be “real escalation” after Friday’s limited attack.

Major General Giora Eiland told Sky’s Yalda Hakim the strike showed Israel can reach “even sensitive places”, but it had tried to “do it in a way that both sides can be satisfied”.

He said both nations would try to emphasise their own success and minimise that of the other side.

Read more:
Targeted strike is a message – and Iran’s response is telling
Rules of the game have now shifted

👉 Listen above then tap here to follow the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts 👈

Military analyst Professor Michael Clarke said it made sense for Iran to try to downplay the attack.

He said it “relieves them of the responsibility of being so outraged they have to do something even more decisive”.

Prof Clarke added that Israel almost certainly used ballistic missiles, rather than drones, but that ultimately both sides were “trying to save face”.

Friday’s strike came after Iran launched an aerial assault on Israel on 13 April, involving about 300 drones and missiles.

It was mostly intercepted and no deaths were reported, but was a dramatic moment that bypassed the usual method of attacks via proxy groups.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Military analyst Professor Clarke on Israeli attack

Iran’s attack was itself retaliation for a strike – attributed to Israel – on an Iranian consulate in Syria on 1 April.

Two generals and seven members of Iran’s revolutionary guards were killed in the incident.

The Israel-Hamas war – which has seen attacks by Iranian and Israeli proxies increase – has helped create the conditions for this week’s historic flare-up.

Continue Reading

Trending