U.S. senators urge Biden to share information on war crimes with ICC as it pursues Putin

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic and Republican U.S. senators urged the Biden administration on Friday to share information with the International Criminal Court that could assist as it pursues war crimes charges against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Last week, the court issued an arrest warrant for Putin, accusing him of the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine. The legal move will obligate the court’s 123 member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot on their territory.

The letter to President Joe Biden from Democrats Dick Durbin, Bob Menendez, Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse and Republicans Lindsey Graham and Thom Tillis, noted that Congress passed legislation to give the administration more flexibility in assisting the ICC.

“Yet, months later, as the ICC is working to build cases against Russian officials, including Putin himself, the United States reportedly has not yet shared key evidence that could aid in these prosecutions,” the letter said.

“Knowing of your support for the important cause of accountability in Ukraine, we urge you to move forward expeditiously with support to the ICC’s work so that Putin and others around him know in no uncertain terms that accountability and justice for their crimes are forthcoming,” the letter said.

Although the United States is not a party to the ICC, Biden said last week that Putin has clearly committed war crimes, adding that the ICC warrant was justified.

Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations that its forces have committed atrocities during its one-year invasion of its neighbor and the Kremlin branded the court decision as “null and void.”

The letter’s signers include Durbin, the number two Senate Democrat, who chairs the Judiciary Committee. Graham is the top Judiciary Committee Republican. Menendez chairs the Foreign Relations Committee.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Alex Richardson)