March 24, 2023 at 05:27PM. Putin’s arrest could spark World War III, Russia warns
The court, which is based in The Hague in the Netherlands, concluded on March 16 that Putin had committed war crimes in his full-scale invasion of Ukraine, citing the unlawful deportation of Ukrainian children.
It is the first time an arrest warrant has been issued against the leader of one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.
Medvedev, who serves as deputy chairman of Russia’s security council and was also prime minister for eight years, said that if the German authorities attempted to arrest the Russian president on the ICC’s warrant, it would be a declaration of war.
“Let’s imagine—obviously this situation which will never be realized, but nevertheless let’s imagine that it was realized. The current head of the nuclear state went to a territory—say, Germany—and was arrested,” Medvedev said, according to state-run news agency RIA Novosti.
“What would that be? It would be a declaration of war on the Russian Federation,” he added.
When contacted by Newsweek, the ICC said: “The court does not comment on alleged political statements.”
Germany is one of the 30 members of NATO, along with the U.S., so Medvedev’s warning suggests that any arrest would put the military alliance at war with Russia, sparking World War III.
The former president’s remarks come a few days after Marco Buschmann, Germany’s justice minister, told the newspaper Bild that Putin would be arrested if he entered German territory.
Under the International Criminal Court warrant, its 123 member states, including Germany, would be obliged to arrest Putin and hand him over to the court.
Moscow does not recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction or extradite its nationals.
Buschmann said: “I expect the ICC to quickly contact Interpol as well as participating states and ask them to comply with the demand.
“Germany will then be obliged to arrest President Putin when he enters German territory and hand him over to the ICC.”
Newsweek has contacted Germany’s Federal Foreign Office by email for comment.
Medvedev previously suggested that Russia could strike the ICC with a hypersonic missile in response to its decision to issue an arrest warrant for Putin.
Attempts to try Putin in the ICC would have “monstrous” consequences for international law, Medvedev said on his Telegram channel on Monday.
“The ICC judges got excited in vain. Look, they say, we are brave, and we raised a hand against the largest nuclear power without c******* ourselves,” wrote Medvedev.
“Alas, gentlemen, everyone walks under God and rockets. It is quite possible to imagine the targeted use of a hypersonic ‘Onyx’ from the North Sea from a Russian ship at the Hague courthouse,” he went on, referring to a naval cruise missile.
“And the court is just a miserable international organization, not the population of a NATO country. That’s why they won’t start a war. They will be afraid. And no one will feel sorry for them. So, judges of the court, look carefully into the sky…,” Medvedev added.
Update 03/23/23 6:48 a.m. ET: This article was updated with comment from the ICC and additional information.