Moscow’s ally warns that arresting Putin would be a “declaration of war” against Russia.

Moscow’s ally warns that arresting Putin would be a “declaration of war” against Russia.

Dmitry Medvedev, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin and deputy chairman of his security council, has warned that any attempt to arrest Putin after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant accusing him of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine would amount to a “declaration of war” against Russia.

Medvedev made the statement to Russian media on Thursday (March 23), adding that the ICC, which Russia, China and the US do not recognise, was a “legal nonentity” that had never done anything significant. He also said that the West was probably at the worst point ever in its relations with Russia and that the risk of nuclear conflict had risen due to the West’s arming of Ukraine.

The ICC warrant, issued on Friday, accused Putin of the war crime of illegally deporting children from Ukraine and said there were reasonable grounds to believe he bore individual criminal responsibility. The Kremlin has dismissed the warrant as an outrageously partisan decision that is meaningless concerning Russia. At the same time, Russian officials deny war crimes in Ukraine and say the West has ignored Ukrainian war crimes.

Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine has triggered the deadliest European conflict since World War Two and the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Putin has cast the conflict as an existential struggle to defend Russia against what he sees as an arrogant and aggressive West, which he says wants to cleave Russia apart. The West denies it wants to destroy Russia and says it is helping Ukraine defend against an imperial-style land grab.

Medvedev, president of Russia from 2008 to 2012, said that after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the West had considered itself the boss of Russia, but Putin had put an end to that. He also said that Ukraine was part of Russia, as almost all of modern-day Ukraine had been part of the Russian empire, and that ties with the West would one day improve, but it would take a long time.

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