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Germany's Baerbock at ICC urges 'accountability' for Putin

July 17, 2023

Speaking at the 25th anniversary ceremony of the International Criminal Court, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said "no one should be able to lead a war of aggression and get away with it in the 21st century."

Annalena Baerbock sits in front of a podium
Annalena Baerbock addressed the ICC and later will attend a meeting of the UN Security CouncilImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance

Speaking at a ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC), German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock urged the international community to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin accountable for his actions in Ukraine.

At the ceremony in New York, Baerbock said Putin's behavior pointed to a clear loophole in international law.

Baerbock went on to say the Russian leader has, "no qualms about dragging the weakest in society, the children, into his war of aggression in the most brutal fashion," among other things, by abducting children in order to rob them of their identity.

The foreign minister bemoaned the fact that the international community remained unable to prosecute the "original sin" of invading a country in a war of aggression, especially when it comes to the leaders of countries that refuse to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the ICC.

She said Putin's actions were, "grounds to further develop international criminal law," saying, "no one should be able to lead a war of aggression and get away with it in the 21st century."

Ukraine's lost children: 'This is not just a war crime'

Baerbock: Russia using 'hunger as a weapon against the entire world'

As news of Russia refusing to renew a deal that would extend Ukrainian grain and wheat exports came in, Baerbock accused Putin of, "once again using hunger as a weapon against the entire world."

The foreign minister is also due to address a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York later Monday. 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, speaking in Brussels on the sidelines of this week's EU-CELAC summit with leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean, called the Kremlin's decision, "bad news."

He said the move made clear that, "Russia does not feel responsible for good relations in the world." 

Putin ICC arrest warrant an important signal

In New York, Foreign Minister Baerbock said the ICC's March arrest warrant for Putin, which is specifically tied to the Kremlin's abductions of Ukrainian children, sent a strong signal and was a reminder that the international community had an obligation to listen to the weakest among us.

She said the warrant had kept Putin from traveling to countries that have ratified the Rome Statute that created the court and, "made clear that international criminal law works."

"Peace through law," said Baerbock, "that is the strength that the international community can hold up to counter Russia's brutal invasion."

Can Putin be arrested? Law professor Stefanie Bock

js/wmr (AFP, dpa)