The Kremlin’s response to the International Criminal Court’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin was one of rejection and defiance. The Russian government, including top officials and propagandists, expressed outrage and dismissed the warrant as legally “void” since Russia does not recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that “Russia, just like a number of different countries, does not recognize the jurisdiction of this court, and so from a legal point of view, the decisions of this court are void.” Russia is not a member of the ICC, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova echoed this sentiment, declaring that the ICC’s decisions “have no meaning” for Russia. “Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and bears no obligations under it,” she stated on Telegram. She also emphasized that Russia does not cooperate with the ICC, and any possible “recipes” for arrest coming from the court will be legally void as far as Moscow is concerned.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev also expressed his disdain for the warrant on Twitter, likening it to toilet paper.
The ICC’s decision to issue an arrest warrant against Putin was related to the “unlawful deportation” of Ukrainian children. The court also issued a warrant against Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s presidential commissioner for children’s rights, on similar charges. Lvova-Belova, who reportedly made light of the warrant, stated that “there have been sanctions against me from all countries, even Japan, and now an arrest warrant. But we will continue our work.”
In response to the ICC warrants against “Russian citizens,” the head of the Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, ordered a probe into the ICC judges who made the decisions. The committee stated that it will identify specific individuals responsible for the warrants, which it called “obviously illegal.”
Meanwhile, Margarita Simonyan, head of the Russian state broadcaster RT, suggested that Moscow could respond militarily to any attempts to arrest the Russian president. “I would like to see the country that arrests Putin by the decision of the Hague. Some eight minutes after. Or however long the flight time will be to its capital,” she said on social media.
Members of the Russian opposition, on the other hand, welcomed the ICC’s decision to issue the warrant against Putin. Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who spent a decade behind bars, congratulated Putin on his arrest in absentia, calling it “just the first step.” Activist Vladimir Milov, an ally of jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny, tweeted “Lock him up!” in response to the news.