Moscow’s Vatican envoy meets Russia official wanted by ICC

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A Russian official wanted by the ICC over allegations of illegally transferring Ukrainian children to Russia said Thursday she had met a visiting Vatican envoy.

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Cardinal Matteo Zuppi began his visit to Russia earlier this week, in a first such trip since President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine in February 2022.

“Met with Cardinal Matteo Zuppi,” Moscow’s ombudswoman for children’s rights Maria Lvova-Belova said in a statement.

“We discussed humanitarian issues related to military operations and the protection of children’s rights.

“I am sure that Christian love and mercy will help in dialogue and mutual understanding,” she added.

The International Criminal Court, which is based in The Hague, released arrest warrants for Lvova-Belova as well as Putin in March.

The court said the orders were linked to the war crime accusation of unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children.

Kyiv says more than 16,000 Ukrainian children have been deported to Russia since the beginning of the Kremlin’s large-scale military campaign in Ukraine and that many were placed in institutions and foster homes.

The Kremlin and Lvova-Belova dismissed the allegations and pointed to the fact that Russia does not recognize the jurisdiction of the court.

Zuppi visited Kyiv earlier this month.

At the time, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to the Italian cardinal to help secure the release of Ukrainian prisoners of war and the return children “deported” to Russia.

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