According to The Guardian:

Putin is likely to evade justice in the near future: Russia does not recognise the court’s jurisdiction, and insisted on Friday it was not affected by the warrants. But the Russian leader will face limits on his freedom of travel to the ICC’s 123 member states, further deepening his isolation.

And the BBC:

It is highly unlikely that much will come of the move - the ICC has no powers to arrest suspects, and can only exercise jurisdiction within its member countries - and Russia is not one of them. However it could affect the president in other ways, such as being unable to travel internationally.

But given that Putin possesses diplomatic immunity while traveling abroad... are his travels really restricted in any meaningful way? Obviously he can't show up in other countries uninvited but that was already the case before the ICC warrant. And if he is invited, he's covered by immunity and the warrant changes nothing.

So are Putin's travels now really restricted in any meaningful way compared to last week?

  • 3
    Countries that were previously neutral or even slightly friendly to Russia might silently avoid hosting Putin to avoid the diplomatic headache. At least according to Wikipedia Iran has signed but not ratified membership into the ICC, although I can't find any source with more specific information. It seems more likely they would withdraw rather than strain relations with Russia though. Mar 18, 2023 at 2:23
  • 1
    @IllusiveBrian even Belgium itself will not arrest Putin if he’s invited for a visit due to his diplomatic immunity. So whoever invites Putin while he’s still president will not have to face a dilemma when it comes to international law. Mar 18, 2023 at 2:39
  • 1
    The simple answer is probably that no country is required to let someone in, just because they have diplomatic immunity, but I'm sure there are some complications at the UN (and the like). Recently there was a spat with [sanctioned?] Russians going to the OSCE in Vienna, IIRC. See theguardian.com/world/2023/feb/21/… Mar 18, 2023 at 8:19
  • 2
    @Fizz: The UN is located within the US, which does not recognize the ICC's jurisdiction. I'm not sure whether the State Department would issue Putin an A-1 visa, but if they do so, then that comes with automatic diplomatic immunity (and if they don't, they are denying him entry outright, because he is ineligible for any other category of visa as a head of state/government). Regardless, Putin does not need to personally travel to and address the UN, because he has people to do that for him.
    – Kevin
    Mar 19, 2023 at 21:11
  • Do you cretins actually believe anyone would try to arrest Putin? Mar 20, 2023 at 3:40

3 Answers 3


Diplomatic immunity only exists if the host country is willing to offer it. It does not exist by the virtue of a visiting dignitary claiming it, or their country claiming it.

If Putin wanted to visit Australia, for example, (which is a signatory of the statute that established the ICC), it would not be up to Putin whether he has diplomatic immunity. It would be up to Australia whether to confer the diplomatic immunity.

This is usually not an issue with heads of states, but the ICC has declared that there is no head-of-state immunity in relation to ICC charges.

So conferring a diplomatic immunity would not be a legally moot issue.

Which would it make a political determination rather than a legal one. Any politician who offered Putin such an immunity would not be able to say to their voters "my hands are legally tied." Because when it comes to political decisions, the political arm of the state bears the responsibility, not the legal one.


Diplomatic immunity does not necessarily protect against the crime that is done in a different country (Ukraine) and not related to the current diplomatic mission (how much are these children abuses related?). A country may void diplomatic immunity in such cases, even if it may also chose not to do so. See here and here for the examples.

Also, as pointed in the answer by @wrod, in 2019 ICC has judged that heads of state have no immunity from criminal prosecution international criminal courts.

  • 2
    I'm not sure those two links/examples are relevant though. Diplomats are stationed somewhere so their immunity limited to that country, but presidents are not. They are assumed to be on official visit, unless it's clearly private. Mar 18, 2023 at 8:17
  • 1
    I am not sure if "diplomatic immunity" is defined differently for presidents than for the other diplomats. Wikipedia says diplomatic immunity can be waived (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diplomatic_immunity)
    – Stančikas
    Mar 18, 2023 at 8:26
  • Somewhat more relevant: politics.stackexchange.com/questions/78806/… Mar 19, 2023 at 21:13
  • I don't think this is right. Imagine a unfriendly government arresting the US Ambassador on a made-up charge that the ambassador murdered somebody while he was in the US.
    – user71659
    Mar 19, 2023 at 22:40

The mechanism is not that Putin would refrain from travelling abroad out of fear to be arrested. The mechanism is that (some/many) countries would refuse to let Putin enter as to avoid being in a situation where they could arrest him.

  • 1
    As per Wiki, he hasn't been traveling to any "non-friendly" nations in 2022 even before the warrant was issued. Mar 18, 2023 at 12:22
  • 2
    @JonathanReez Tajikistan ratified their membership in the ICC and is on the list of countries he visited in 2022. He also visited Mongolia in 2019, another country that ratified the treaty. Not major players but they are strategically important to Russia. Mar 18, 2023 at 15:07
  • 1
    @IllusiveBrian $100 says he’ll visit Tajikistan again while the warrant is still active. They’re not arresting Putin. Mar 19, 2023 at 12:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .