Conflicts & War

Putin’s travel dilemma

Moscow, Mar 25 (EFE).- Wanted by the International Criminal Court, Russian president Vladimir Putin faces a tricky travel dilemma. Theoretically, more than half the world’s nations are off limits due to the threat of arrest.

A total of 123 nations have ratified the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty, while another 30 have signed it but not yet ratified.

Since launching his invasion of Ukraine, Putin has been prudent with his foreign trips. His only visit outside the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States was to Iran.

But even before the invasion the Russian leader had already wound down his trips, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the pandemic he has traveled to the west just once — a 2021 visit to Geneva, where he met United States president Joe Biden.

Now with the ICC arrest warrant issued on March 17, the West is out of bounds for Putin.

So, too, is much of Central and Eastern Europe, although Hungary — whose government is much closer to Putin than most of its neighbors — said it would not arrest the Russian leader if he visited the country.

The United States has not ratified the ICC treaty, but the White House has accused the Kremlin chief of war crimes and wants Putin to be held accountable.

Most African nations observe the ICC treaty but China, Turkey and India never got round to signing it. Nor did Cuba or Nicaragua in Latin America.

A planned visit by Putin to South Africa for a Brics summit in July could now be up in the air given the country’s status as a party to the treaty.

Maria Zakharova, Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, recently expressed her confidence that South Africa would facilitate Russia’s participation in the summit but acknowledged that it was obliged by the ICC to carry out the arrest warrant.

When it comes to Russia’s neighbors, seven have signed up but only three — Moldova, Georgia and Tajikistan — have ratified the treaty.

Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Belarus never signed up.

With elections on the horizon this year, the Kremlin will likely present Putin as a defender of the interests of developing countries against Western exploitation.

But in order to convince the public that Putin has more friends and than enemies, he will ideally need to take part in foreign trips. EFE


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