Armenia Votes to Ratify ICC’s Rome Statute

Armenia has voted to ratify the founding statute of the International Criminal Court, or ICC — a decision that could obligate the nation to arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin if he were to set foot in Armenia.

Armenia earlier assured Russia that, despite the country’s ratification of the Rome Statute, Putin would not be arrested if he were to visit Armenia, but Russia had warned against Armenia’s decision. Moscow said Armenia and Russia have been longtime allies, but that Moscow would call into question Armenia’s current leadership if the ratification took place. 

The Armenian president, Vahagn Khachaturyan, now has 60 days to sign the measure. Sixty legislators voted in favor of ratification; 22 voted against it.

“Armenia is our ally, a friendly country, our partner. … But at the same time, we will have additional questions for the current leadership of Armenia. … We still believe this is an incorrect decision,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Tuesday.

The Kremlin had warned Armenia back in March of “serious consequences” if it ratified the ICC statute.

In March, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s presidential commissioner for children’s rights, regarding what the ICC said was the unlawful deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. The Kremlin dismisses the claim as baseless.

Ties between Russia and Armenia had already been strained by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Russia’s limited action in response to Azerbaijan seizing the formerly ethnic Armenian-controlled region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The region, which is in Azerbaijan, had been a source of tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan. With Azerbaijan recapturing the territory, more than 100,000 ethnic Armenians who lived there have fled to Armenia.

Moscow has voiced frustration with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who has said his country’s policy of solely relying on Russia to guarantee Armenia’s security was a “strategic mistake.”

Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, an alliance among six former Soviet nations. Armenia also has a bilateral security treaty with Russia, which ensures Moscow will provide protection for Armenia. Based on that agreement, Russia has a military base in Armenia.

Some information in this report was provided by Reuters and the Associated Press. VOA’s Armenian service also contributed to this report. 

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