Putin in Kyrgyzstan for first trip abroad since court arrest warrantBreaking

October 12, 2023

Vladimir Putin arrived in Kyrgyzstan Thursday, visiting abroad for the first time since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him in March. President Putin is wanted by the court over the deportation of Ukrainian children. Its ruling requires members of the ICC, which does not include Kyrgyzstan, to make the arrest if he sets foot on their territory. Russian news agencies TASS, Interfax and RIA Novosti reported early Thursday morning that Putin had arrived in Kyrgyzstan. He is due to meet his Kyrgyz counterpart Sadyr Japarov and to take part in a summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States with his Belarus ally Alexander Lukashenko and other regional leaders. The long-time leader has rarely left Russia since launching the Ukraine offensive in February 2022.

This year, he has travelled only to Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine, with his last foreign trips to Belarus and Kyrgyzstan last December -- a far cry from the busy international schedule he had earlier in his rule. Now, in a sign of Russia's isolation, he is planning a visit to North Korea next, as well as China. Moscow has likened the prospect of Putin being arrested abroad to an act of war, casting the warrant as "illegal". In practice, however, it has taken precautions: in August, Russia sent Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to a BRICS summit in ICC member South Africa, instead of Putin.

While the full-scale Ukraine offensive made Putin a persona-non-grata in the Western world, the ICC ruling virtually closed the door to a large part of the globe for him. The Rome Statute, a treaty requiring members to adhere to ICC rulings, has been ratified by 123 countries. The ruling caused a legal headache for ICC member South Africa, which hosted the BRICS summit to which Putin was invited. In a last-minute decision, Moscow sent its foreign minister instead of Putin.

"Why should I create some problems for our friends during an event?" Putin said this month, commenting on his absence from Johannesburg. "If I come, a political show will start," he added. Putin is wanted alongside his children's rights commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova for the war crime of allegedly unlawfully deporting thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia.

Credit: Independent News Pakistan (INP)