Putin and Kremlin allies furious with ICC arrest warrant

Russia: Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Xi Jinping

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Vladimir Putin and his Kremlin allies are “furious” after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for the Russian President, an expert has said. The ICC has accused Putin and his regime of being responsible for the abduction of children from Ukraine.

Russia has also been accused of targeting civilian infrastructure, and mass graves found in Bucha and Irpin earlier in the war provide yet more evidence of alleged war crimes.

But Moscow has denied allegations of war crimes, and various Kremlin figures have dismissed the ICC’s warrant.

British journalist and former foreign correspondent of The Sunday Times, Christina Lamb, says the Kremlin is “furious” about the arrest warrant because it makes Putin a “pariah”.

She compared Putin’s predicament to that of Slobodan Milošević, the former Serbian President who was tried at The Hague for ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, and Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president and convicted warlord.

Ms Lamb said of Putin’s arrest warrant: “There are two big impacts. One, it makes Putin a pariah, that’s why the Kremlin was so furious with this. It classes him with people like Milošević and Charles Taylor.

“But also, the court has 123 signatories, so any of those countries in Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia that Putin decides to go to, those countries would be obliged to arrest him.

“Also, any other country could do it. It doesn’t have to be a member state.”

The majority of experts say it is unlikely that Putin will ever have to actually stand trial, but Ms Lamb pointed to Milošević and Taylor to highlight that it is not impossible.

The Kremlin’s anger has also been made evident in recent days as Russia opens a criminal case against the ICC in retaliation.

Moscow’s Investigative Committee said there were no grounds for criminal liability on Putin’s part.

Their statement said: “The criminal prosecution is obviously illegal since there are no grounds for criminal liability.”

The ICC’s prosecutor and judges were also suspected of “preparing an attack on a representative of a foreign state enjoying international protection, in order to complicate international relations”.

ICC President Piotr Hofmanski dismissed Russia’s claims on Friday, telling Al Jazeera that it is “completely irrelevant” that Russia is not part of the ICC.

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He said: “According to the ICC statute, which has 123 state parties, two-thirds of the whole international community, the court has jurisdiction over crimes committed in the territory of a state party or a state which has accepted its jurisdiction. Ukraine has accepted the ICC twice – in 2014 and then in 2015.”

While Putin risks being isolated by the ICC warrant, China appears to be offering an olive branch to the Russian President.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has invited Putin to visit China this year, according to reports.

On Monday night, Mr Xi and Putin had dinner together. Xi also described Beijing and Moscow as “great neighbouring powers” and “strategic partners,” saying he would “prioritise” ties with Putin.

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