One of Russia's top security officials has warned any country that tries to carry out an international arrest warrant for its president will be declaring war.
Last week, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for the arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin over his actions in Ukraine. The court made the decision after months of investigations around the actions of Russian forces during the ongoing conflict.
It has alleged that children living in Ukraine were forcibly deported to Russian territories, with these actions amounting to war crimes.
But Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s former prime minister and now deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, has warned warned that any attempt to enforce an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for President Putin would be viewed by the Kremlin as a declaration of war.
The Times report Medvedev vowed that Moscow would respond immediately with missile attacks, although he did not specify how Russia would avoid killing the president in those attacks.
Speaking after Berlin confirmed that it would arrest Putin if he ever set foot in Germany, he said: “It’s clear that this is a situation that will never happen — but nevertheless let’s imagine it does. The current head of a nuclear state arrives on the territory of, say, Germany, and is arrested. What is this? A declaration of war against the Russian Federation,” Medvedev said.
“In this case, everything we have would fly toward the Bundestag, the chancellor’s office and so on,” he added.
Although Russia is not a signatory to the ICC, its warrant does look set to limit Putin's travel plans. The Russian president was expected to travel to South Africa in August to attend a summit, but a spokesperson for President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday that South Africa was aware of its legal obligation to arrest him.
According to Reuters, spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said: "We are, as the government, cognisant of our legal obligation. However, between now and the summit we will remain engaged with various relevant stakeholders.
"We note the report on the warrant of arrest that the ICC has issued," Magwenya continued. "It remains South Africa's commitment and very strong desire that the conflict in Ukraine is resolved peacefully through negotiations."