Russian Ally Warns Putin: Don’t Visit—or You’ll Get Arrested
Shannon Vavra – March 29, 2023
The ruling party of Armenia has warned that if Russian President Vladimir Putin comes to Armenia, the country will have no choice but to arrest him.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for Putin’s arrest earlier this month over alleged war crimes in Ukraine, particularly his alleged involvement in the unlawful deportation of children from Ukraine. But the ICC doesn’t have the power to enforce its warrants, and since Russia doesn’t recognize the court’s jurisdiction, much of its enforcement will depend on other countries’ willingness to step in if Putin travels.
“If Putin comes to Armenia, he should be arrested… It is better for Putin to stay in his country,” Gagik Melkonyan, deputy of the Armenian National Assembly, said this week, according to a Moscow Times translation of an interview with Factor.am. “If we enter into these agreements, then we must fulfill our obligations. Let Russia solve its problems with Ukraine.”
The decision from the ruling party of Armenia, which is part of a Russian-led collective defense organization, stands in stark contrast to other Kremlin allies that are not deviating from loyalty to Moscow. Hungary, which has close ties with Russia, announced it will not enforce the ICC’s arrest warrant for Putin last week.
Even though Armenia is technically a Russian ally—as part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)—Armenia’s decision is just the latest indication that the country is willing to take matters into its own hands and hold Putin accountable. Just last week, Armenia took steps that will pave the way for it to ratify the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC.
Team Putin Melts Down Over International Arrest Warrant
“If we enter into these agreements, then we must fulfill our obligations,” Melkonyan said.
The Kremlin rebuked Armenia for entertaining the idea of joining the Rome Statute, according to a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry.
“Moscow considers absolutely unacceptable the plans of official Yerevan to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court against the backdrop of the recent illegal and legally void ‘warrants’ of the ICC against the Russian leadership,” the source said early this week, according to TASS.
The Russian Foreign Ministry warned there would be “extremely negative” consequences for Armenia moving forward.
But Armenia is not alone, and other countries are banding together with plans to arrest Putin. Ireland, Croatia, Austria, and Germany have each said they will enforce the warrant.
The decision in Armenia suggests that Russia’s allies are growing more willing by the day to question Moscow’s judgment in the war in Ukraine over one year into the conflict.
Indian officials have expressed concern over Putin’s war in Ukraine, urging against conflict and the use of nuclear weapons in the war. Chinese President Xi Jinping has also been caught off guard by Putin’s invasion and has been dismayed at the way he is carrying it out, according to the U.S. intelligence community.