According to the RIA news agency, Russia has threatened Armenia with “severe consequences” if it submits to the authority of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has issued an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin (27 March).
This month, the ICC issued the warrant charging Putin with the war crime of forcibly removing hundreds of children from Ukraine; the Kremlin denounced the action as pointless and grossly biased.
Armenia is moving toward becoming a state party to the Rome Statute, which would bring it under the jurisdiction of the ICC. Armenia is a longtime Russian ally, but relations between the two countries have deteriorated significantly since Putin gave the order to invade Ukraine in what he called a “special military operation.”
According to a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry, Moscow finds Armenia’s aspirations to join the ICC “unacceptable,” according to the official Russian news agency RIA.
The plan, which would need to be passed by the Armenian parliament after being approved by the constitutional court, would need to be approved by Russia, according to the report, or Yerevan would face “very serious implications” for bilateral relations.
According to a Russian Foreign Ministry source quoted by RIA, “Moscow considers official Yerevan’s plans to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to be unacceptable against the background of the recent illegal and legally null and void warrants of the ICC against the Russian leadership.”
No instant response came from Armenia.
If a country Putin wishes to visit is an official party to the Rome Statute, the ICC warrant might make it more difficult for him to travel there.
Putin may visit South Africa and Turkey this year, and he has previously traveled frequently throughout the former Soviet Union, notably to Armenia, where Russia has peacekeeping forces and a military facility.
Moscow’s relations with Yerevan, however, have deteriorated recently over what Armenia claims are Russia’s failure to fully uphold a 2020 ceasefire treaty it assisted in brokering between Armenia and Azerbaijan to end a war over Nagorno-Karabakh, an Azerbaijani region with a significant Armenian population.
Russia has defended the conduct of its peacekeepers, who have so far refrained from interfering to put an end to what Armenia claims are a partial blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh by Azeri activists.
Russia, a longtime power broker in the South Caucasus region with a mutual defense agreement with Armenia, is now up against the United States, the European Union, and Turkey for influence.