[Syrian boys cry following Russian air strikes on the rebel-held Fardous neighborhood of the northern embattled Syrian city of Aleppo.]
Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an order to have Russia withdrawn from the International Criminal Court (ICC) amid calls for his military to be referred over air strikes backing Syrian Regime Leader Bashar al-Assad and the annexation of Crimea, The Independent newspaper reported.
The President instructed Russia's foreign ministry to notify the United Nations of the country's refusal to be subject to the body's activity on Wednesday, following the same move by Gambia, South Africa, and Burundi.
State media reported that the government was pulling out of the 2002 Rome Statute, which establishes the International Criminal Court's status and powers, although the Kremlin never ratified the agreement it signed in 2000.
“The International Criminal Court has not justified hopes placed upon it and did not become a truly independent and authoritative judicial body,” a spokesperson for the Russian foreign ministry said.
A statement claimed that Russia "consistently advocates that people guilty of grave offenses must be held accountable" and took part in developing laws against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
French President Francois Hollande suggested that Russia should face war crimes charges over its bombardment of rebel-held eastern Aleppo last month.
“These are people who today are the victims of war crimes,” he told French television amid hundreds of reported civilian deaths. Those that commit these acts will have to face up to their responsibility, including in the ICC", the statement said.
It was the latest call that parties in the conflict should be prosecuted by the ICC, after Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution to refer the Assad regime in 2014.
Both Russian and Syria have denied deliberately killing civilians or breaking international law in the Syrian civil war, saying they are targeting ‘terrorist groups’.