Observers believe that a new arena has been added to the conflict between Russia and Western countries after the International Criminal Court issued two arrest warrants against Russian President Vladimir Putin on charges of involvement in war crimes, and another against humanity committed under his command in Ukraine.

According to them, the decision added fuel to the flames rising between Moscow and Western capitals, which welcomed the decision, with US President Joe Biden saying that the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court against Putin was justified, "he clearly committed war crimes."

This came against the backdrop of statements by ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan that Russian President Vladimir Putin could be prosecuted at some point, because no one is above accountability for those who commit acts of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.

Western capitals have welcomed the court's issuance of two arrest warrants against Putin, while Moscow has strongly criticized the court and its decision.

Dangerous step

On the seriousness of this step, Ambassador Andrei Baklanov, Vice President of the Association of Russian Diplomats, said in an interview with the program "Beyond the News" (2023/3/18) that it will be a new round that worsens the relationship between Russia and the West, although he stressed that this development was expected.

Baklanov added that the anticipation of the move had led political observers not as much as they were discussing the substance of the court's decision as they were looking at what Moscow should do to stop such moves.

He also considered that the US side organized what he described as theatrical work, referring to the decision of the International Court, stressing at the same time that the decision did not affect the conduct of battles on Ukrainian soil, but made the possibility of a political settlement almost impossible, and thus the natural result is the continuation of the war.

Legality of the decision

Regarding the legality of this decision, former ICC lawyer Diala Shehadeh said that although the decision has not been implemented in the near future, it contains great legal value, because arrest decisions do not lapse with the passage of time and statute of limitations, noting that the ICC is completely independent of the United Nations and the decisions of judges taken at the level of judicial circuits.

Shehadeh pointed out that the only case in which the proceedings of the international court can be delayed at the judicial level is the unanimous agreement of the Security Council of the countries that have the right of veto to postpone judicial proceedings as long as it serves the interest of international peace and security, "but this situation has never happened throughout history," she said.

Stinging reply

On the American level, Ambassador William Courtney, former assistant to the US president for Russia and Ukraine, said that the ICC decision will harm the reputation of Putin and Russia, and it will also contribute to Russia's realization that aggression against Ukraine costs it a lot and "this is what may push Putin to make a logical decision to withdraw from Kiev."

He believed that this decision supports consensus and unity among Western countries in order to help Ukraine repel Russian aggression, and also supports the unified position of the West and the sanctions it imposes on Russia, and this is what makes the impact of the step great.

EU foreign policy and security chief Josep Borrell said the ICC's decision was just the beginning of holding Russia accountable for its crimes.

The Russian response was scathing from several official levels, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov describing the decision as provocative and unacceptable, stressing that what was issued by the ICC has no value and no importance at all.

On the Ukrainian side, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that all countries that have signed the Rome Statute are obliged, according to the ICC note, to detain Russian President Vladimir Putin if he is inside their territory.

Kuleba told local media that Putin for the first time was legally charged as a war criminal.