Putin Faces Warrant Problem

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Vladimir Putin is facing a problem relating to his international arrest warrant, per PBS.

In March 2023, the International Criminal Court based in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin. This was due to the alleged deportation of Ukrainian children and resettlement in Russia.

Until now, Putin’s warrant was meaningless, as he never travelled to countries that were bound by the ICC’s edicts. Putin now wants to visit South Africa which is a signatory, though it has not condemned the invasion of Ukraine. Russia is not a signatory of the ICC and therefore does not recognize the warrant.

South Africa would most likely not arrest Putin, but this would strain its standing with the West, and show the hollowness of the ICC if its warrant was flagrantly invoked. Some solutions South Africa had proposed was for Russia to be represented by its foreign minister, or to simply move the summit.

This is the first time that a major world leader has faced an arrest warrant, putting in motion an international law “constitutional crisis.” On the one hand, Putin holds a diplomatic passport, and it is long customary not to arrest foreign leaders as they embody sovereignty. On the other, former Nazi officials were tried by international court at Nuremberg following the Second World War, creating a precedent for a higher law than that of individual states.

Should Putin be arrested, the Russian state could take drastic actions to preserve its standing. It could also lead to retaliatory warrants for Western officials, or even escalate to violent covert action. In 2008, two Vermont towns passed a symbolic measure asking for the arrest of still sitting US President Bush. America is not bound by the ICC and has taken steps to prevent its authority through the “Hague Invasion Act.”


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