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Russia warns Armenia against allying with ICC after Putin arrest warrant - RIA

Reuters WORLD
Published March 27,2023

Russia has warned Armenia of "serious consequences" if it submits to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) which has issued an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin, the RIA news agency reported on Monday.

The ICC issued the warrant this month, accusing Putin of the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine, a move condemned by the Kremlin as a meaningless and outrageously partisan decision.

Armenia, a traditional Russian ally whose ties with Moscow have frayed badly since Putin gave the order to invade Ukraine in what he called a "special military operation", is moving towards becoming a state party to the Rome Statute, a move that would bring it under the jurisdiction of the ICC.

RIA, a state Russian news agency, cited a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying that Moscow regarded Armenia's ICC plans as "unacceptable".

It said Russia had warned Yerevan of "extremely negative consequences" for bilateral relations if it went ahead with the plan, which would need to be ratified by the Armenian parliament following approval by the constitutional court.

"Moscow considers official Yerevan's plans to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to be absolutely unacceptable against the background of the recent illegal and legally null and void warrants of the ICC against the Russian leadership," RIA cited the Russian Foreign Ministry source as saying.

There was no immediate reaction from Armenia.

The ICC warrant has the potential to complicate Putin's global travel plans if a country he wants to travel to is an official party to the Rome Statute.

Countries that Putin may travel to this year include South Africa and Türkiye, and the Russian leader in the past has regularly travelled across the former Soviet Union, including to Armenia where Russia has peacekeeping troops and a military base.

Moscow's ties with Yerevan have deteriorated in recent months however over what Armenia says is Russia's failure to fully uphold a 2020 ceasefire treaty it helped broker between Armenia and Azerbaijan to end a war over Nagorno-Karabakh - an Armenian-populated region of Azerbaijan.

Moscow has defended the actions of its peacekeepers, who have so far not intervened to end what Armenia says is a partial blockade by Azeri activists of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Russia has a mutual defence pact with Armenia and has been a traditional power broker in the South Caucasus region, but is facing increasing competition for influence from the United States, the European Union and Türkiye.