The United States has condemned Chinese president Xi Jinping for visiting Russia just days after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for its leader, Vladimir Putin, over war crimes allegedly committed during his invasion of Ukraine.
Mr Xi and Mr Putin called each other “dear friend” and welcomed deepening bilateral relations when they met in the Kremlin on Monday, and did not publicly mention the ICC’s allegation that the Russian president is responsible for the deportation of thousands of children from Ukraine.
Simon Harris, the Minister for Justice, has pledged €1 million in funding for the ICC to assist its investigations into war crimes in Ukraine. The State may also provide garda, forensic science experts and other justice professionals to assist the investigation.
The Department of Justice said that Mr Putin would be arrested on charges of war crimes in the unlikely event he sets foot in Ireland.
[ Xi arrives in Moscow calling for pragmatism on Ukraine war ]
Last week the ICC announced warrants for the arrest of Mr Putin and his commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, on charges relating to the forced deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. Forced deportation of children was designated as a war crime by the Rome Statute which established the ICC in 1998.
As a signatory to the Rome Statute, Ireland is legally bound to implement the decisions of the ICC which is based in The Hague in the Netherlands.
“As with any case, if Ireland receives a request for the arrest and surrender of a person who is subject to an International Criminal Court arrest warrant, this request will be dealt with in accordance with the ICC Act 2006,” a Department of Justice spokesman told The Irish Times.
On Monday, Mr Harris attended a meeting of justice ministers in London “in support of the International Criminal Court’s efforts to secure accountability for Russian war crimes in Ukraine”.
Ireland is one a core group of 43 countries to refer the invasion of Ukraine to the ICC.
“Ireland has been steadfast in its condemnation of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified aggression as a grave violation of international law,” Mr Harris said. “We are committed to promoting accountability for violations of international law, including international crimes, arising out of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
US secretary of state Antony Blinken said that Mr Xi’s visit to Moscow “suggests that China feels no responsibility to hold the Kremlin accountable for the atrocities committed in Ukraine, and instead of even condemning them, it would rather provide diplomatic cover for Russia to continue to commit those very crimes”.
Weeks before Mr Putin poured troops into Ukraine last February, Moscow and Beijing said their relationship had “no limits”, and Russia has become heavily reliant on China diplomatically and economically as the war has deepened its rift with the West.
Mr Xi welcomed his host’s “strong leadership” and Mr Putin lauded China’s “colossal leap ahead in its development”, adding that “we even feel a bit envious”.
China recently unveiled a broad ceasefire initiative for Ukraine but has not condemned Russia’s invasion, and the US says China is considering supplying arms to Moscow – a claim Beijing denies.
Mr Putin said they would “discuss ... your initiative, which we highly respect,” and praised Russia-China co-operation for “helping strengthen the basic principles of the global order”.
The Kremlin said the leaders spoke for 4½ hours before dinner on Monday, and wider talks are scheduled for Tuesday.
Meanwhile, European Union states agreed on a €2 billion plan to supply one million artillery shells to Ukraine, and the US announced $350 million (€326 million) in new military aid for Kyiv.