Russia threatens to bomb The Hague as China’s Xi visits Kremlin
by Joel Gehrke, Foreign Affairs Reporter |
March 20, 2023 12:08 PM
International Criminal Court judges should “watch the skies,” according to a top Kremlin official who threatened a violent response to the arrest warrant issued against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I’m afraid, gentlemen, everyone is answerable to God and missiles,” Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev, who held the title of Russian presidency under Putin from 2008 to 2012, said on Monday. “It’s quite possible to imagine how a hypersonic Oniks fired from a Russian warship in the North Sea strikes the court building in The Hague. It can’t be shot down, I’m afraid.”
ICC officials issued an arrest warrant for Putin and another Russian official last week, one day after United Nations investigators accused Moscow of perpetrating “a war crime” against Ukrainian children deported into Russia. Kremlin officials dismissed the warrant as “null and void,” but Medvedev added his own provocative touch.
“And the court is just a pathetic international organization, not the people of a NATO country,” Medvedev said, per state media. “So, they won’t start a war. They’ll be scared. And no one will be sorry.”
“The ICC needs to take an objective and just position, respect the jurisdictional immunity of a head of state under international law, prudently exercise its mandate in accordance with the law, interpret and apply international law in good faith, and not engage in politicization or using double standards,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.
Xi embarked on his visit to Moscow just weeks after unveiling a “peace proposal” that calls for a ceasefire and the lifting of Western sanctions on Russia but does not urge Putin to withdraw his forces from Ukraine. Xi has prioritized ties with Putin as both leaders seek to challenge the U.S.-led alliance network in the vicinity of their historic empires. The Chinese leader’s trip to Moscow bookends a visit from Putin to Beijing last year, when they issued a statement calling for a “transformation of the global governance architecture and world order” — just weeks before Putin launched his attempt to overthrow the Ukrainian government.
“Ukraine is closely following the visit of the President of the People’s Republic of China to Russia,” Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said Monday. “We expect that Beijing will use its influence on Moscow to force it to stop its aggressive war against Ukraine.”
Neither China, Russia, nor the United States has signed the treaty that established the ICC, but Ukraine’s parliament issued a call Monday for the treaty signatories “to take all possible measures” to haul Putin before the court.
“The crimes are carried out on the direct orders of the senior political and military leadership of the Russian Federation and constitute a gross violation of the current norms of international law, which requires a decisive and effective response from the international community by bringing the Russian leadership to international criminal liability,” the parliamentary resolution said.
Medvedev condemned the ICC for daring to issue a warrant against “the president … of a nuclear power that isn’t party to the ICC for the same reasons as the U.S. and some other countries,” and argued that the warrant will lead to a “collapse” of international law.
“The consequences for international law will be disastrous,” he insisted. “No one now will be turning to international institutions. Everyone will be making agreements between themselves. All the foolish decisions of the U.N. and other organizations will be bursting at the seams. A dark decline of the entire system of international relations is coming.”