A senior Kremlin official indicated this week that any effort to arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin would amount to an act of war and warrant a blizzard of missile strikes.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who now serves as deputy chairman of Russia's security council, made the threat repeatedly in response to the International Criminal Court's issuance of an arrest warrant for Putin last week for war crimes.
The arrest warrant
The ICC issued warrants of arrest on March 17 for Putin and for Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, the Russian president's commissioner for children's rights. Both individuals are accused of the war crime of unlawfully deporting children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation and are believed to bear individual criminal responsibility.
ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan suggested that these acts "demonstrate an intention to permanently remove these children from their own country."
One hundred twenty-three countries have signed on to the Rome Statute and are therefore legally bound to implement the decisions of the ICC, based in the the Hague in the Netherlands.
The U.S., China, India, and Russia are not among the ICC's 123 member states.
In addition to not being party to the Rome Statute, the U.S. has a Bush-era law on the books authorizing the use of military force to liberate any American or citizen of a U.S.-allied country being held by the Hague.
Ireland, among the nations obliged to enforce the warrant, has confirmed that it would arrest the Russian president in the unlikely event he sets foot on the island. Canada and Germany similarly welcomed the ICC's decision.
Not all signatories will respect the warrant, however. While his nation signed the statute in 1999, Hungarian Cabinet Minister Gergely Gulyas indicated that the arrest warrant is not binding in his nation.
The ICC's decision to indict Putin came nearly one year after the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution condemning Putin as a war criminal.
Reuters reported that the resolution, introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), implored the ICC to follow suit.
Sudan's former President Omar al-Bashir and Libya's Muammar Gaddafi were the only other leaders indicted by the ICC while still in power.
Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, suggested on Twitter that Putin's status as an accused war criminal means there will be no further negotiations with the current Russian elite; no return of the Russian Federation to world politics in its prewar status; and no lifting of sanctions so long as the "face of Putin" represents Russia.
In a video posted to Telegram on Wednesday, Medvedev said, "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," reported DW.
"What would that be? It would be a declaration of war on the Russian Federation," said Medvedev. "And, in that case, all our assets — all our missiles etc. — would fly to the Bundestag, to the chancellor's office."
Medvedev issued a similar threat on Twitter Friday, stating Putin's arrest in Germany, for instance, would be "casus belli, the unequivocal declaration of war against the Russian Federation! In that case, Russia would be forced to attack Berlin, and its means of destruction will rain on the Bundestag, the Chancellery, the Ministry of Defense and other key centres of decision-making. Mr. Scholz has picked himself a truly great team! Poor Germans …"
Days earlier, Medvedev intimated that the Hague could be on the receiving end of hypersonic missiles should the Russian president be arrested.
"I’m afraid, gentlemen, everyone is answerable to God and missiles," the security official wrote on Telegram. "It’s quite possible to imagine how a hypersonic Oniks fired from a Russian warship in the North Sea strikes the court building in the Hague. It can’t be shot down, I’m afraid."
The ICC condemned Medvedev's threats, stating, "The Presidency of the Assembly regrets these attempts to hinder international efforts to ensure accountability for acts that are prohibited under general international law."
DW reported that Russia has opened its own criminal investigation into the ICC's Karim Khan. Putin's Investigative Committee alleges Khan possibly ran afoul of Russian law, accusing an innocent person of a crime and "preparing an attack on a representative of a foreign state enjoying international protection, in order to complicate international relations."Like Blaze News? Bypass the censors, sign up for our newsletters, and get stories like this direct to your inbox. Sign up here!