Russia says it would take it as a declaration of war if any country attempts to arrest President Vladimir Putin on a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“Let us imagine. Obviously, it is a situation which is never going to happen. But nevertheless, let us imagine this situation came true – an incumbent leader of a nuclear state had arrived, for instance, in Germany, and was arrested. What is this? A declaration of war on the Russian Federation!”
The remark was made by the deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, in an interview with Russian journalists on Thursday.
The Hague-based ICC issued the arrest warrant on Friday, accusing Putin of the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine. It said there are reasonable grounds to believe that Putin bears individual criminal responsibility.
The Kremlin has already called the move outrageous and legally void, as Russia is not a signatory to the treaty that created the ICC. Russia withdrew from the ICC treaty under a directive signed by Putin in 2016.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Thursday his country would not arrest Putin if he entered the country.
In Kiev, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said Russian leaders should be put on trial for the invasion of Ukraine even if they cannot be brought to court in person. “I believe that it could be (held) in absentia, because it's important to deliver a matter of justice for international crimes even if perpetrators are not in the dock.”
International courts very rarely hold trials in absentia and the ICC's rules state specifically that an accused suspect shall be present during trial.
Elsewhere in the interview, Medvedev said the threat of a nuclear conflict is growing. “And now it is earnest. Is the threat of a nuclear conflict gone? No, it is not. It has grown. Every day of foreign weapons delivery to Ukraine ultimately brings this very nuclear apocalypse closer.”
“Thank God – of course the drones are important, too, especially under condition of the current conflict – that we have parity and even superiority in the sphere of strategic nuclear forces. As a matter of fact this is even more important for the very existence of our country. Without this they would have definitely torn us in pieces.”
“The wish (of the West) is very simple – to destabilize the political situation, to split the country into parts, pretty large ones, to strike an agreement with each of these parts, to carry out a denuclearization and demilitarization of each of these parts. And then to come and offer (to them): okay, guys, you need someone to protect you. These pieces even have a chance to join NATO. Especially under conditions of the our national wealth sharing.”
Russia says the military operation in Ukraine has been in order to defend the pro-Russia population in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk against alleged persecution by Kiev. Ever since the war began, Kiev's allies, led by the United States and Britain, have been supplying Ukraine with weapons, a step that Russia says would prolong the conflict.
Russia does not expect Nord Stream findings will be made public: Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday he did not expect the findings of investigations into who was responsible for the blasts of 2022 on the Nord Stream gas pipelines would be made public. “I do not expect these investigations to be transparent, nor do I expect the results to be made available to the general public,” Lavrov said at a news conference.
The pipelines, which connect Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea, were hit by unexplained explosions in September in what Moscow called an act of “international terrorism.”
Swedish and other European investigators say the blasts were caused by deliberate attacks.
Moscow has repeatedly complained that it has not been invited to the probes or kept informed about their findings. It has blamed the explosions on Western sabotage.
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