The White House says it “remains to be seen” whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will ultimately be brought to justice for alleged war crimes after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him on Friday, but the United States United will continue to help Ukraine document Moscow’s misdeeds.
“We will remain committed to assisting Ukraine as it documents, analyzes and preserves the kinds of evidence of war crimes, atrocities, crimes against humanity that occurred in Ukraine at the hands of Russian forces,” said the National Security Council. On Friday, Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
The United States does not recognize the ICC, but Kirby said the United States “will not abandon our belief that accountability for these war crimes must be held, no matter how long that takes.”
Kirby said the US wants “all perpetrators of war crimes to be held accountable”, but he declined to say whether US President Joe Biden would tell law enforcement to arrest Putin if he came to the United States. He said it was “very, very unlikely” that the Russian leader would visit the United States.
Asked if the United States would ask other countries like Israel or India – which also do not recognize the ICC – to arrest the Russian leader, Kirby said it “should be a decision sovereignty taken by these rulers”.
Remember: Russia also does not recognize the ICC, and the court does not conduct trials in absentia, so Putin would either have to be handed over by Moscow or arrested in a foreign country to be charged by the court.
Moscow’s links with Beijing: Tapper also asked Kirby if there was any intelligence that China had decided to give arms to Russia to help in the country’s assault on Ukraine.
“We don’t think they’ve taken it off the table yet, but we also don’t see any indication, any confirmation, that they’re heading in that direction or that they sent lethal weapons,” says Kirby.
“We don’t think it’s in their interest. It should not be in anyone’s interest, quite frankly, to help Mr. Putin continue to slaughter innocent Ukrainians,” he added.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping will travel to Moscow next week to meet Putin in his first visit to Russia since Putin launched his devastating invasion of Ukraine more than a year ago.
The visit will be seen as a powerful display of Beijing’s support for Moscow in Western capitals, where leaders are increasingly wary of the deepening partnership between the two nations as war rages in Europe.
CNN’s Nectar Gan and Anna Chernova contributed to this report.