ICC arrest warrant for Putin "extremely painful to the Kremlin" - Sarts

  • 2023-03-20
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Kremlin propaganda channel's reaction to the International Criminal Court's (ICC) arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin suggests that this ICC decision is "extremely painful to the Kremlin",  Janis Sarts, director of the Riga-based NATO Center of Excellence for Strategic Communication (StratCom CoE), said on social networks.

Sarts told LETA that this time the propagandists' reaction was different, namely, it was very cautious, which could be interpreted as the Moscow regime's realization that this is high-risk information, the releasing of which to Russia's population should be strictly controlled. 

"Television channels either did not mentioned the fact at all or replayed Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov's comment. All this rubbish about missiles [Russian ex-president Dmitry Medvedev's threats to launch a missile attack on the ICC courthouse in the Hague] and so on were basically a Telegram-style message targeting groups of people that are already actively following the news," Sarts said. 

According to Sarts, the Kremlin lacks a clear strategy for dealing with the ICC ruling, as it cannot be kept a complete secret but a strong reaction is not an option either, as there are fears in Russia that people will start to understand the international court's stance on Putin. 

Asked why the ICC has issued the warrant for Putin's arrest for the deportations of Ukrainian children and not other grave war crimes, Sarts said that this might be the part of the probe where the causal link are easier to prove, which to a great extent has happened thanks to Russian propaganda, which "nicely filmed" everything Putin ordered to do with the Ukrainian children and put this information on public display. 

"This might mean that in cases of other war crimes committed in Ukraine, the causal links might be harder to prove, but in this case Russian propaganda itself has provided the prosecutors with at least part of the argumentation," Sarts said. 

As reported, the ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia's presidential commissioner for children's rights, for the "unlawful deportation" of Ukrainian children.

The Kremlin said that the International Criminal Court's decision to issue an arrest warrant for Putin was legally "void" since Moscow does not recognize the Hague-based court's jurisdiction.