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The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin last week, calling him a war criminal. They allege that he has overseen the abduction of thousands of children from Ukraine, particularly from orphanages and care homes. The news of the warrant has provoked a fiery response from Moscow, with former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev hurling threats at the intergovernmental organisation based in the Netherlands. Now, political scientist and historian Professor Mark Galeotti has told Express.co.uk that the arrest warrant could impact the future of the Russia-Ukraine war and its aftermath.
Professor Galeotti said that while the ICC arrest warrant sends a powerful message, it is highly unlikely that Putin will end up in the dock in the Hague, with very few having been brought to justice at the court in the past.
Ukraine is not a signatory to the court but it does grant the ICC jurisdiction to investigate war crimes that were carried out on its territory. Russia is also not one of the 104 members of the ICC and does not recognise it.
According to its website, ICC has issued 38 arrest warrants, but judges have only ever issued ten convictions and four acquittals.
Instead, the author of the 2019 book We Need to Talk About Putin, said the arrest warrant could make it more difficult to negotiate peace talks.
He said: “It’s significant. But the point is, it could swing either way. It’s a powerful statement of the degree to which Putin has been breaching notions of what is an acceptable practice.
“The problem is that Putin’s not going to end up in the dock in the Hague and the risk is that this might actually make peace harder to negotiate than anything else.”
This, in turn, also makes the war — which has now raged on for well over a year — much more difficult to end, as it means those who work closely for Putin cannot have a seat at the negotiation table.
He continued: “If it makes it harder to talk to Putin, for example, if it makes it harder for Ukrainian negotiators to sit down with Russian negotiators knowing that they work for Putin, then that makes the war much harder to end.”
This interpretation was similarly upheld by a Ukrainian President’s office advisor and a representative negotiator in Istanbul, Mykhailo Podolyak.
In the wake of the news of the ICC arrest warrant, he tweeted that an “international criminal directly means there will be no negotiations with the current Russian elite”.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told Politico that talking to Putin “made no sense” long before the arrest warrant was issued. He said such talks were declared impossible last year when Putin attempted to annex additional Ukrainian territories.
He added: “Putin has ignored everything; all he wants is more war, more Ukrainian children stolen, more Ukrainians murdered, and more Ukrainian land taken. How does one deal with such evil? One crushes it by force.”
However, he said the option of negotiations is not completely off the table, but added that any move towards peace would not involve Putin.
The arrest warrant, and any action like it, Professor Galeotti explained, sends a message that “there is no chance of any kind of return to anything like normalcy after the war” with Putin now branded a war criminal.
While it also signals to the rest of the world that there is no dealing with Putin, the author said it is highly unlikely that this would happen.
He added: “I think some of the people who welcome this warrant are doing so precisely because it makes the rest of the world understand there’s no dealing with Putin — that’s not going to happen. On the whole, the world is a very pragmatic place.”
Just this week, Putin met with Chinese President XI Jinping in Moscow to discuss both the war and the expanding political and economic relationship between their two countries.