TueWhen it comes to portraying Vladimir Putin as a man of action, Kremlin filmmakers love to film him from the back seat of a car. The President of Russia himself sends him to where his orders must be carried out. Spectators watch as Putin watches, praises, instructs.
Now such images have come from the occupied eastern Ukrainian port of Mariupol. According to the Kremlin, Putin’s visit there took place on Saturday evening and Sunday evening. The President flew by helicopter from Crimea, which was annexed exactly nine years earlier, to Mariupol, and then drove through several districts by car.
Mariupol was largely destroyed even before the conquest in the spring of 2022, killing tens of thousands of people there. But not death and ruin, but construction work was the focus of Putin’s short trip, the first ever in the occupied territories of eastern Ukraine.
In the passenger seat of Putin sat the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of construction. He led Putin into the courtyard of a new residential area. The alleged residents thanked Putin “for the victory” and their new apartment, “this piece of paradise.”
Putin’s headquarters cannot ignore arrest warrants
The second location was the “reconstructed Philharmonic” of the city. In the pictures, Putin is sitting in a thick winter jacket on a green folding chair, after a few seconds he gets up again and hurries on. Putin is said to have traveled from Mariupol to Rostov-on-Don in southwestern Russia to command his “special operation,” as the war of aggression is called. The president then awaits head of state and party leader Xi Jinping on Monday. With all the staged surprises, this is the usual Kremlin agenda.
The arrest warrants that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has just issued against Putin and his Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, do not change that. Putin must rise above this. But his employees can’t ignore arrest warrants. Like China, India and the US, Russia is not a member of the ICC. But among the 123 member states, there are all the EU countries, the UK, Canada, Japan, as well as countries courted by Moscow, such as Brazil and 33 African countries.
Putin is the first sitting head of state among the permanent members of the UN Security Council to be issued an arrest warrant by the ICC, and only the third sitting head of state to ever be the target of such a move. The first was then Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2009 for the genocide in Darfur; Nevertheless, he continued to travel to countries that have ratified the Rome Statute on which the Court is based, such as Kenya, South Africa and Jordan. Bashir was overthrown in 2019. Efforts to transfer him to The Hague have not yet been made, but a warrant for his arrest remains in place.
The fate of the second incumbent head of state against whom the ICC issued an arrest warrant is repeatedly quoted by Putin as he lashes out at the West: Libyan “revolutionary leader” Muammar Gaddafi was killed in a civil war in 2011. just a few months after the arrest warrant was issued.
Russia’s position on the Rome Statute was not always unambiguous
Putin’s headquarters now varied the thesis that the arrest warrants were “legally invalid” and “outrageous.” The head of the Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, recalled his own statement from 2014, in which he linked the existence of Russia with the existence of Putin, interpreted any “attacks” on the president as “aggression against our country,” and criticized the “foreign Hague court.”
Russia’s position on the Rome Statute has not always been as clear-cut as it may now seem in anger: the country signed the international treaty in 2000 but has not ratified it. It was not until 2016 that Russia withdrew from the ICC, citing “national interests,” after the then chief prosecutor said that the annexation of Crimea amounted to an armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
At the end of April 2014, the ICC launched a preliminary investigation into Ukraine; although the latter has not ratified the charter, it has accepted the jurisdiction of the criminal court over possible crimes in its territory since November 21, 2013.
Source: Frantfurter Allgemeine