Joe Biden has welcomed the international criminal court’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for the Russian president for war crimes in Ukraine.
The US president said Vladimir Putin had clearly committed war crimes and that the arrest warrant for the Russian leader made a “very strong point”.
“Well, I think it’s justified,” Biden said of the warrant on Friday. “But the question is – [the ICC is] not recognised internationally by us either. But I think it makes a very strong point.”
The US is not a member of the court and the Pentagon has resisted cooperating with it because of fears American soldiers could be pursued by the court.
The ICC decision, for allegations Putin has overseen the abduction of Ukrainian children, marks the first time the court has issued a warrant against one of the five permanent members of the UN security council.
The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, hailed the court’s move, saying on social media it was “a historic decision from which historic responsibility will begin”.
The UK foreign secretary, James Cleverly, said it was essential that those at the top of the regime in Moscow were held to account for the atrocities which had taken place since the invasion began last year.
“We welcome the step taken by the independent ICC to hold those at the top of the Russian regime, including Vladimir Putin, to account,” Cleverly said in a statement posted on social media.
“Work must continue to investigate the atrocities committed.”
The UK’s Labour party leader, Sir Keir Starmer, a former director of public prosecutions, said the announcement sent an important message: “There will no hiding place for Putin and his cronies and the world is determined to make them pay for what they have done”.
“These cases are just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “One day Putin will face justice: until then, the focus of all who believe in Ukraine’s liberty and freedom must continue to be on ensuring her victory.”
While there is no immediate prospect of Putin facing arrest, legal experts have pointed to the examples of the former Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević and Liberia’s former president Charles Taylor as international leaders who wound up in the dock in The Hague.