Relations between Armenia and Russia continued to deteriorate throughout Russia's invasion of Ukraine. In February 2023, Armenia refused to return to Moscow for negotiations while the Lachin corridor was closed. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov publicly acknowledged Azerbaijan's rationale for the 2020 aggression.[46] This escalated further as the International Criminal Court announced on 17 March 2023 that it had issued an arrest warrant for Putin. As Armenia is a signatory to the Rome Statute, Armenia would have a legal obligation to arrest Vladimir Putin should he enter Armenian territory.[47] In April 2023, Russia enacted a ban on imports of Armenian dairy products, widely seen as a retaliatory move against Armenia.[48]


I read that Armenia, being a signatory to the Rome Statute, has the legal obligation to arrest Vladimir Putin should he enter Armenian territory. I was wondering what are the consequences of not arresting someone who has an arrest warrant under the ICC. I think it happened quite a few times, and I never heard what happened to those countries.

It's not a duplicate, because I am asking about the consequences, not only legal but political consequences.


1 Answer 1


Continued peace.

Armenia doesn't have such an obligation, as Article 98 of the Rome Statute explicitly prohibits the ICC from requesting it to do so:

The Court may not proceed with a request for surrender or assistance which would require the requested State to act inconsistently with its obligations under international law with respect to the State or diplomatic immunity of a person or property of a third State, unless the Court can first obtain the cooperation of that third State for the waiver of the immunity.

In other words, arresting a person with immunity is only possible if the state granting it wants that arrest to happen. Since Putin is the head of state, he enjoys state immunity, and there's no mechanism for waiving it.

Also, heads of state don't just take a tourist bus to another country. State visits are approved in advance by the receiving country. Such an approval carries an implicit or explicit promise of providing for the guest's safety.

No country has ever arrested a sitting head of state with an ICC warrant. About the only country that would arrest Putin, given the chance, is Ukraine, since:

  1. Putin can enter Ukraine without a diplomatic visit;
  2. Little to lose - at worst, they get invaded?

Ukraine isn't a party to the Rome Statute, though. Neither are the United States or China.

However, the ICC warrant is not meaningless. Should Putin be deposed as head of state - say, had Prigozhin's rebellion succeeded - the new leader might not want to have their knocked-down opponent lurking in exile. They would likely approve and call for such an arrest.

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