Armenia joined the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Saturday, adding to a growing list of countries where Russian President Vladimir Putin can’t visit freely.
Armenian officials made it clear that their decision to join the ICC was not meant to be a jab at Russia, an ally to the country, claiming that Azerbaijan’s aggression towards Armenia was the catalyst for its decision, the Associated Press reported.
Last month, Azerbaijan said it took full control over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, an enclave that has been occupied by Armenian separatists for over 30 years. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that pro-Armenian forces surrendered after a two-day fight in the mountainous region. “Karabakh is Azerbaijan,” he said in an address to his country at the time.
Armenia’s parliament, meanwhile, voted to ratify the Rome Statute (60-22), which would in effect make it a member of the ICC, and on Saturday, Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturyan approved the decision.
However, Armenia told Moscow last month that Putin would not be arrested if he entered the country after Russia called Yerevan’s decision an “unfriendly step,” according to the AP.
Over 100 countries have joined the ICC, since its creation over 20 years ago. Armenia, along with the other countries that have signed and ratified the Rome Statute, are expected to arrest Putin upon entry after the Russian leader was charged with war crimes in Ukraine in March.
The ICC alleges that Putin is responsible for the unlawful deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia during his invasion of the Eastern European country that began in February 2022. Moscow, however, has denied the ICC’s allegations and called the warrant for the Russian leader’s arrest “outrageous.” Investigators in The Hague had gathered evidence against Putin over the past year, but an ICC prosecution remains a challenging task since the Kremlin does not recognize the court or its jurisdiction.
Other countries where Putin is not welcome includes every member of the European Union (EU), most African states, all Latin and South American states, besides Cuba and Nicaragua, and even Russian ally Tajikistan, according to the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA).
Hungary, another ally to Russia, signed the Rome Statute and ratified it in 2001. However, Gergely Gulyas, chief of staff to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, said in March that there is no basis in his country’s law for arresting Putin if he were to visit.
Newsweek has reached out to the Armenian parliament via email for comment.