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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Putin’s European Travel Plans in Jeopardy as Another Country Vows to Arrest Him

Austria’s Minister for the European Union and Constitutional Affairs, Karolina Edtstadler, recently announced that Austria would arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin if he visits the country in compliance with an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Austria is a party to the Rome Statute, which established the ICC. Last month, the court issued an arrest warrant for Putin over alleged war crimes in Ukraine, including the illegal kidnapping of Ukrainian children. However, as the ICC does not have the power to enforce its warrants, any next steps will only come from other countries being willing to arrest Putin.

This move by Austria comes amid mounting pressure for the country to reassess its military neutrality during Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. While Austria has condemned the invasion and supported sanctions against Russia, it has avoided military participation. Austria is part of a growing list of countries that have indicated they will abide by the ICC’s arrest warrant for Putin. Even countries previously allied with Russia, such as Armenia, a member of the Russian-led defense organization the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), have indicated they will enforce the arrest warrant. Gagik Melkonyan, a deputy of the ruling Civil Contract party in the Armenian parliament, revealed last month that Putin would be arrested if he came to Armenia.

Despite its militarily neutral stance, the move for Austria may not come as a surprise. The Austrian Ministry of Justice reaffirmed its observation of ICC decisions last month, stating that “arrest warrants issued by the court must be executed, and persons wanted by the court must be arrested.”

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