Former President Dmitry Medvedev: ICC’s arrest warrant for Putin is a declaration of war against Russia
The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant last Friday, accusing President Vladimir Putin of the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine. It said there are reasonable grounds to believe that Putin bears individual criminal responsibility.
Former President Dmitry Medvedev, who serves as deputy chairman of Putin’s powerful security council, told Russian media that the ICC, which countries including Russia, China and the United States do not recognize, was a “legal nonentity” that had never done anything significant.
He said any attempt to arrest Putin would amount to a declaration of war against Russia, his ally Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday.
“Let’s imagine – obviously this situation which will never be realized – but nevertheless lets imagine that it was realized: The current head of the nuclear state went to a territory, say Germany, and was arrested,” Medvedev said.
“What would that be? It would be a declaration of war on the Russian Federation,” he said in a video posted on Telegram. “And in that case, all our assets – all our missiles et cetera – would fly to the Bundestag, to the Chancellor’s office.”
News of the warrants brought cheers from Ukraine and derision from Moscow. Russia is not among the 123 countries that have signed on to the ICC, making such warrants “null and void” within its borders, said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.
The Kremlin says the ICC arrest warrant is an outrageously partisan decision, but meaningless with respect to Russia. Russian officials deny war crimes in Ukraine and say the West has ignored what it says are Ukrainian war crimes.
Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine has triggered the deadliest European conflict since the Second World War and the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
Relations with the West, Medvedev said, were probably at the worst point ever.
As president from 2008 to 2012, Medvedev cast himself as a pro-Western reformer. Since the war, though, he has turned into one of the most publicly hawkish Russian officials, insulting Western leaders and delivering a series of nuclear warnings.
Nuclear risks had risen, he said.
“Every day’s delivery of foreign weapons to Ukraine brings closer the nuclear apocalypse,” Medvedev said.
After the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, he said, the West had considered itself the boss of Russia but Putin had put an end to that.
“They were very offended,” Medvedev said, adding that the West disliked the independence of Russia and China.
He said the West now wanted to crack Russia apart into a host of weaker states and steal its vast natural resources.
Putin casts the conflict in Ukraine as an existential struggle to defend Russia against what he sees as an arrogant and aggressive West which he says wants to cleave Russia apart.
The West denies it wants to destroy Russia and says it is helping Ukraine defend against an imperial-style land grab. Ukraine says it will not rest until all Russian soldiers are ejected from its territory.
“Ukraine is part of Russia,” Medvedev said, adding that almost all of modern-day Ukraine had been part of the Russian empire. Russia recognized Ukraine’s post-1991 sovereignty and borders in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum.
Medvedev said ties with the West would one day improve, though he said it would take a long time.
“I believe that sooner or later the situation will stabilize and communications will resume, but I sincerely hope that by that time a significant part of those people (Western leaders) will have retired and some will be dead,” he said.
Here are some information about ICC.
Who is part of the ICC?
Canada is among the countries to have ratified the ICC’s foundational Rome Statute. Many others have not, including key members of the UN Security Council — the U.S., China and Russia — and major G20 nations such as India, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Turkey.
Most of the countries in Europe and South America have signed on, as have Australia, New Zealand, Japan and much of Africa.
What can the ICC do?
The ICC has jurisdiction over four types of crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression.
However, with no armed body to enforce its warrants, the ICC has minimal power to arrest people and instead must rely on the security forces of member states.
Since its launch in 2002, the court has issued arrest warrants for three sitting world leaders: Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi and now Putin. None have stood trial. (Gadhafi was killed and al-Bashir remains at large.)
One Moscow resident, who gave his name only as Daniil, 20, scoffed at the warrant. “Putin! Nobody will arrest him. Rather, he will arrest everyone.”
What happens next?
While an arrest might be unlikely, the warrant will make diplomatic and business endeavours more difficult for Putin and his allies, according to a former U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crime issues.
“This makes Putin a pariah,” said Stephen Rapp, who held the position during Barack Obama’s presidency. “If he travels, he risks arrest. “
“The important point to remember is that the arrest warrant is only the beginning.” said Akhavan, the law professor.
Part of the article was reported by Reuters.