AN arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin has been issued over his alleged involvement in the abductions of children from Ukraine.

The International Criminal Court has accused the Russian tyrant of the “unlawful deportation” of children from Ukraine – a war crime under the Geneva Convention.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Russian president Vladimir Putin

A war crimes prosecutor examines a destroyed building in Sergiyvka, near Odessa[/caption]

An investigation by The Sun into Ukraine’s missing children back in September revealed that thousands of children have been deported during Putin’s invasion.

The Hague-based court has now said “there are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility” for the crimes.

Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations of atrocities during its disastrous one-year invasion of Ukraine.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova blasted the arrest warrant as meaningless.

“The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view,” she said.

“Possible ‘recipes’ for arrest coming from the international court will be legally void as far as we are concerned.”

The court also issued a warrant for the arrest for Maria Lvova-Belova – Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights – on similar allegations to Putin.

It said “there are reasonable grounds to believe that each suspect bears responsibility for the war crime of unlawful deportation” of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.

The court added “it is in the interests of justice… to publicly disclose the existence of the warrants”.

Under the 1948 Geneva convention, forcibly transferring children and changing that child’s nationality or civil status is considered a war crime.

Thousands of children have been abducted or taken to Russian-controlled areas – with only a few of them reuniting with their families in Ukraine.

A study by Yale University revealed at least 6,000 children from Ukraine have been taken to re-education camps across Russia – including in Crimea and Siberia – for “pro-Russia patriotic and military-related education”.

The report notes the number is “likely significantly higher”.

Nathaniel Raymond, a Yale researcher, said Russia was in “clear violation” of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the treatment of civilians during war.

Russia has tried to cast the relocation effort as saving orphans or bringing children for medical care but parents say their children were abducted or they were pressured to give consent to send them away.

The study claimed Putin’s aides have been closely involved in the operation – including Lvova-Belova.

She was previously accused of “barbaric treatment of children”.

Over a year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is feared thousands of Ukrainian children were taken from occupied regions and given for adoption to Russian families.

The ICC move came a day after a UN-mandated investigative body accused Russia of committing wide-ranging war crimes in Ukraine – including torture and making children watch loved ones being raped.

News of the arrest warrant also came ahead of a planned visit to Moscow next week by Chinese President Xi Jinping – which is likely to cement much closer ties between the two nations.

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan opened an investigation into possible war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Ukraine a year ago.

During four trips to Ukraine, he said he was looking at alleged crimes against children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure.

Russia signed the Rome Statute in 2000 – but never ratified it to become a member of the International Criminal Court.

It finally withdrew its signature in 2016.

At the time, Russia was under international pressure over its seizure and annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and its campaign of air strikes in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s war.

International Criminal Court convictions

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has convicted four individuals of war crimes so far. They are:

Thomas Lubanga Dyilo – Democratic Republic of the Congo

Lubanga was convicted in 2012 of enlisting and conscripting child soldiers under the age of 15 and using them to participate actively in hostilities in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

It’s worth noting that the ICC has opened investigations into other cases of war crimes and is currently conducting ongoing trials for several other individuals.