Tuesday June 06, 2023

Any attempt to arrest Putin would be declaration of war on Russia, ally says

March 24, 2023

MOSCOW: Russia´s ex-president Dmitry Medvedev has warned that attempts to arrest Vladimir Putin abroad after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant against him would be seen by Moscow as a “declaration of war”.

Medvedev, who served as president between 2008 and 2012, has made increasingly hawkish speeches since Putin sent troops to Ukraine, repeatedly issuing nuclear threats. Late on Wednesday, he said Russian weapons would hit a country if it arrested Putin.

The ICC, based in The Hague, last week announced an arrest warrant for the Russian leader, accused of deporting Ukrainian children. “Let´s imagine -- it´s clear that this is a situation that will never happen -- but nevertheless let´s imagine it does,” the Putin ally said.

“The current head of a nuclear state arrives on the territory of, say, Germany, and is arrested. What is this? A declaration of war against the Russian Federation.” Medvedev said that if this happened “all of our means, rockets and others, will fly on the Bundestag, in the Chancellor´s Office and so on.”

Medvedev -- who is deputy chairman of Russia´s security council -- said the ICC´s decision will make dire relations with the West plunge further. His comments came two days after Russia opened a criminal investigation into ICC prosecutor Karim Khan and several other ICC judges, saying their decision was “unlawful”.

The Hague-based court had also issued a warrant against Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia´s presidential commissioner for children´s rights. On Wednesday, the ICC´s legislative body said it regretted “threats” against the tribunal over its warrant.

“The presidency of the assembly regrets these attempts to hinder international efforts to ensure accountability for acts that are prohibited under general international law,” it said in a statement.

Former president Dmitry Medvedev told Russian media that the ICC, which countries including Russia, China and the United States do not recognise, was a “legal nonentity” that had never done anything significant.

“Let’s imagine - obviously this situation which will never be realised - but nevertheless lets imagine that it was realised: The current head of the nuclear state went to a territory, say Germany, and was arrested,” Medvedev said.

The Kremlin says the ICC arrest warrant is an outrageously partisan decision, but meaningless with respect to Russia. Russian officials deny war crimes in Ukraine and say the West has ignored what it says are Ukrainian war crimes.

Russia’s Feb 24 invasion of Ukraine has triggered the deadliest European conflict since World War Two and the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Relations with the West, Medvedev said, were probably at the worst point ever. “What would that be? It would be a declaration of war on the Russian Federation,” he said in a video posted on Telegram.

“And in that case, all our assets - all our missiles et cetera - would fly to the Bundestag, to the Chancellor’s office.” As president from 2008 to 2012, Medvedev cast himself as a pro-Western reformer. Since the war, though, he has turned into one of the most publicly hawkish Russian officials, insulting Western leaders and delivering a series of nuclear warnings. Nuclear risks had risen, he said.