Putin, what the arrest warrant means: what happens now

Russia does not recognize the International Criminal Court, but the signal is important

What does the ICC arrest warrant mean for Vladimir Putin? Russia stopped recognizing the court in 2016 and does not extradite its citizens, so it is clear that neither the Russian president nor Russia’s children’s rights commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova will be handed over to the Hague court how long will the current Russian regime last. However, the arrest warrant is significant for several reasons.

Meanwhile, he sends a signal to Russian officials and soldiers on the risk of being indicted too and therefore not being able to travel abroad. Furthermore, Putin could risk arrest if he were to visit one of the 123 countries that adhere to the Rome Statute, under which the court was founded in 2002.

However, his arrest would not be certain, because the host country could assert the principle of immunity of foreign heads of state, as happened in 2015 when Sudanese President Omar Bashir visited South Africa despite the ICC arrest warrant against him .

If Putin is safe in Russia as long as he remains in power, he could however be handed over to the ICC by a future Kremlin leader to mend relations with the West. This is what happened in 2001 when former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic was handed over to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

At the moment Putin has been indicted for the forced deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia, which falls within the category of international crimes for which the Court is competent. However, it is to be expected that there will be other indictments against Putin and perhaps other Russian leaders. Although Ukraine is not a signatory country to the Court, Kiev has granted the ICC jurisdiction over war crimes committed on its territory. The Chief Prosecutor of the Court, Karim Khan, has already been to Ukraine four times. And today he explained that the indictment for the deportation of children is only a first step in the prosecution of Russian war crimes in Ukraine. Other lines of inquiry still remain open.