Arrest warrant against Putin: plea for regime change
With the Hague tribunal’s arrest warrant, Putin has become a pariah in democracies. Peace will only be possible when Putin is no longer in power.
An international arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin – this decision by the International Criminal Court gives an unexpected turn to efforts to end Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia is now a state whose president is no longer socially acceptable. A wanted suspected war criminal can no longer represent his country at eye level.
For those states that respect international law and that have joined the Hague tribunal, or at least respected its decisions – Putin is now a pariah. From now on, almost every trip abroad involves the risk of a one-way ticket. It would not only be legal, but strictly speaking it would be mandatory to detain him at the first opportunity on his travels around the world and ship him to The Hague. Of course, many countries will give a damn and cooperate with Putin as before.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping will be showcasing this in Moscow this Monday. But even countries like China, which fortunately are in the minority, will now consider very carefully before any interaction with Putin whether it is really worth it and whether one is not complicit.
When The Hague 2008 arrest warrant against Sudan’s then military ruler Omar Hassan al-Bashir because of the genocide in Darfur, many heads of state in Africa expressed their solidarity with him against a world judiciary that was perceived as partisan. But they also noticed that any cooperation with Sudan was now overshadowed by the question of how to proceed with the prosecution of war criminals. Sudan only became internationally respectable again after Bashir was overthrown in 2019 – by a coup by the generals in the course of a popular uprising.
No betrayal of Ukraine
Russia, too, will only become respectable again when Putin no longer governs it. The arrest warrant from The Hague is the starting signal for regime change in Moscow in the name of justice. Russia’s way back onto the world stage is now via the extradition of Putin. Anyone who can do that becomes an international hero, no matter how much blood is on their own hands. And vice versa? What if Putin finds enough sympathy around the world to ignore The Hague? That would be fatal for the International Criminal Court.
His arrest warrants would be purely symbolic, worth no more than appeals from human rights organizations. Anyone who is looking for a diplomatic solution with Moscow at the expense of Ukraine must bear this in mind. Now it would only work without Putin. Peace with Putin – not just with Russia, but with President Putin – would not only be a betrayal of Ukraine, but also a deathblow for world justice.