Putin heading for Kyrgyzstan, where there’s no fear of arrest

Putin heading for Kyrgyzstan, where there’s no fear of arrest
Hemmed in by the ICC warrant, Putin usually has to rely on the plinth offered by events in Russia to project himself internationally. / cc
By bne IntelIiNews October 4, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to make his first trip abroad since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for him. The presidency of Kyrgyzstan announced on October 5 that he is expected in the Central Asian country next week.

Putin has not set foot outside Russia since The Hague-based court issued the warrant in March over the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia amid the Russia-Ukraine war.

“By the invitation of the President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov on October 12 the President of the Russian Federation will pay an official visit to our country,” Kyrgyz news agency Kabar reported an official from the presidential office as saying.

Japarov presently faces mounting criticism that he is seeking to construct a highly authoritarian state that in many ways apes the Putin regime.

One feature of the Putin visit will be the Russian leader’s attendance at the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Russian air base in the city of Kant, east of Bishkek, Russian media reported. On the agenda is also a Council of Heads of State of the CIS, which includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, along with Turkmenistan as an associate member.

Even prior to the ICC warrant, Putin seldom left Russia since launching his full-scale military invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. He last ventured abroad in December last year, when he visited both Kyrgyzstan and Russia’s neighbour and close ally Belarus. In July last year the strongman found a sympathetic ear when he visited the Iranian capital Tehran for talks with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts.

Kyrgyzstan is not an ICC member. It has not ratified the Rome Statute, the treaty that obliges adherence to ICC decisions.

Since March ICC members have been expected to arrest Putin should he arrive on their territory.

Although, like Kyrgyzstan, it is a member of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) defence bloc, Armenia against the backdrop of its falling out with the Kremlin over Azerbaijan’s retaking of all of the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave incurred Moscow’s wrath on October 3 when it went ahead and ratified the Rome Statute. There must be some question as to whether Armenian leader Nikol Pashinyan will turn up for the CIS heads of state meeting in Bishkek, given the raw tensions between Yerevan and Moscow.

Putin in July pulled out of attending the BRICS summit hosted by South Africa, a member of the ICC. Comments from Turkey's administration that Putin would turn up in Ankara during the summer came to nothing, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan instead travelling to the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi for a meeting with his Russian counterpart. Although Turkey is not a member of the ICC, it is a member of Nato.