Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, centre, with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, left, and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, right, during a press conference with Nordic heads of state at the Nordic-Ukrainian Summit in Helsinki, Finland, May 3, 2023 [Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix/ via Reuters]

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy makes surprise visit to International Criminal Court

By Mike Corder  The Associated Press

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, centre, with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, left, and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, right, during a press conference with Nordic heads of state at the Nordic-Ukrainian Summit in Helsinki, Finland, May 3, 2023 [Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix/ via Reuters]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday made an unannounced visit to the International Criminal Court, which has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

Zelenskyy was on a visit to The Hague, which hosts the ICC as well as the United Nations’ top judicial organ, the International Court of Justice. The Dutch city calls itself the international city of peace and justice.

Zelenskyy was welcomed outside the ICC building by the court’s president, Poland’s Piotr Hofmanski. Court staff crowded at windows to get a glimpse of Zelenskyy’s arrival and raised a Ukrainian flag next to its own flag outside the building.

Judges at the ICC last month announced they found “reasonable grounds to believe” that Putin and his commissioner for children’s rights were responsible for the unlawful deportation and unlawful transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.

Ukraine denies Russia’s claims it sent drones over Kremlin to kill Putin

But the chances of Putin standing trial in The Hague are remote, The court does not have a police force to execute its warrants, and the Russian leader is unlikely to travel to any of the ICC’s 123 member states that are under an obligation to arrest him if they can.

The visit came a day after he denied that Ukrainian forces were responsible for what the Kremlin called an attempt to assassinate Putin in a drone attack.

On a visit to Helsinki on Wednesday, Zelenskyy told reporters: “We didn’t attack Putin. We leave it to (the) tribunal.”

Ukraine’s Air Force Command said early Thursday that Russian forces attacked multiple Ukrainian regions overnight with Iranian-made drones. Air raid sirens sounded across Ukraine overnight and explosions were reported in the southern city of Odesa and the capital, Kyiv.

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