Russian Ally Could Be Required to Arrest

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Russian President Vladimir Putin could be facing arrest if he chooses to visit Russia’s traditional ally Armenia.

The former Soviet republic, which has had a rocky relationship with Moscow in recent months, announced that it was formally joining the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday. Putin was issued with an ICC arrest warrant last year over alleged war crimes including the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.

Yeghishe Kirakosyan, Armenia’s international legal affairs representative, indicated that Armenia recognized the jurisdiction of the ICC to prosecute war crimes, genocide, crimes of aggression and crimes against humanity as of Thursday in a post to X, formerly Twitter.

Kirakosyan also said that ICC jurisdiction would be recognized retroactively to May 10, 2021, about eight months before Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine and almost two years before the arrest warrant was issued.

Vladimir Putin ICC Arrest Warrant Armenia Joins
Russian President Vladimir Putin in Saint Petersburg, Russia on January 28, 2024. Putin could now be arrested if he ever visits Armenia, due to the country having joined the International Criminal Court this week.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in Saint Petersburg, Russia on January 28, 2024. Putin could now be arrested if he ever visits Armenia, due to the country having joined the International Criminal Court this week.
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Armenia’s parliament voted to join the ICC in October, with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan seeking to reassure Russia at the time that the decision was not “directed against” Putin.

However, recognizing the jurisdiction of the court means that Armenia is now legally obligated to honor the ICC warrant by arresting the Russian president if he ever sets food on Armenian soil.

Newsweek reached out for comment to the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs via email on Thursday.

Putin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov downplayed the development in comments to Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti, insisting that there was “nothing to comment on here” and pointing out that joining the ICC was “Armenia’s sovereign right in general.”

“But on the other hand, it is important for us that such decisions do not affect both de jure [lawfully] and de facto [effectively] our bilateral relations, which we value and hope to further develop,” Peskov added.

Relations between Russia and Armenia have been on increasingly unsteady grounds since Azerbaijan seized full military control over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh in September.

Armenian leaders bristled at Russia’s refusal to assist in efforts to thwart the takeover. Pashinyan said that Armenia’s alliance with Russia was “ineffective when it comes to the protection of our security and Armenia’s national interests.”

Putin strengthened Russia’s ties with Azerbaijan by signing a political-military agreement with the country only days before the invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, 2022, despite Moscow’s traditionally close relationship with Yerevan.

Another indicator of the deteriorating relationship between the nations came in December when Armenian Foreign Affairs Minister Ararat Mirzoyan held a meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Brussels to discuss the “advancement” of Ukraine-Armenia relations.

During the meeting, Mirzoyan said that Armenia also “warmly” welcomed Ukraine and its neighbor Moldova advancing in the process of becoming members of the European Union, which has been strongly opposed by Putin’s government.

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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