YEREVAN: Armenian lawmakers approved a key step towards joining the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday, a move that was expected to escalate tensions with the ex-Soviet country´s traditional ally Moscow.
Russia said it was “wrong” to ratify the treaty to join The Hague-based court, which in March issued an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine and the illegal deportation of children to Russia.
ICC members are expected to make the arrest if the Russian leader sets foot on their territory. The vote illustrated a growing chasm between Moscow and Yerevan, which has grown angry with the Kremlin over its perceived inaction over Armenia´s long-standing confrontation with Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijani forces last month swept through the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh — where Russian peacekeepers are deployed — and secured the surrender of Armenian separatist forces that had controlled the mountainous region for decades.
An online broadcast from the Armenian parliamentary session showed a majority of 60 deputies voting in favour of the proposal, with 22 — mainly opposition lawmakers — voting against joining the ICC.
The Kremlin immediately criticised Armenia´s decision. “We are doubtful that, from the point of view of bilateral relations, Armenia´s accession to the Rome Statute is correct,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “We still believe that it is the wrong decision,” he added. Tensions have also been rising between Yerevan and Moscow over the role of Russian peacekeepers in the self-proclaimed republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, which announced its dissolution last week following the lightning military operation by Baku.