Armenia’s parliament votes to join International Criminal Court

Armenian parliamentarians have voted for their country to join the ICC (Hayk Baghdasaryan/PHOTOLURE via AP)
Armenian parliamentarians have voted for their country to join the ICC (Hayk Baghdasaryan/PHOTOLURE via AP)

Armenia’s parliament has voted to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The move adds further strain to the country’s ties with its old ally Russia after the court issued an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin over events in Ukraine.

Moscow last month called Armenia’s effort to join the ICC an “unfriendly step” and the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Armenia’s ambassador.

Armenian politicians in the country's parliament
Armenia has voted to join the International Criminal Court, which earlier this year indicted Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes (Hayk Baghdasaryan/PHOTOLURE via AP)

Countries that have signed and ratified the Rome Statute that created the ICC are bound to arrest Mr Putin, who was indicted for war crimes connected to the deportation of children from Ukraine, if he sets foot on their soil.

Armenian officials have argued the move has nothing to do with Russia and was prompted by Azerbaijan’s aggression towards the country.

Politicians voted to ratify the Rome Statute by a vote of 60-22. Armenia’s president must sign off on the decision, which will come into force 60 days after the vote.

Armenia’s relations with Russia have frayed significantly in recent years.

In 2020, Moscow brokered a deal that ended a six-week war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It mandated that Armenia cede to Azerbaijan large amounts of territory in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, a part of Azerbaijan with a predominantly Armenian population.

Ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh leaving the region
Ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh have been leaving the region since Azerbaijan took control (AP Photo/Aziz Karimov)

Russia then sent some 2,000 peacekeepers to the tumultuous region and Armenia has accused the troops of failing to prevent recent hostilities by Azerbaijan that led to the country taking full control of the region.

The Kremlin, in turn, has accused Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of precipitating the fall of Nagorno-Karabakh by acknowledging Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over the region.

Moscow also blames Armenia for damaging ties with Russia by embracing the West, including hosting US troops for joint military drills.

It remains unclear whether Mr Pashinyan might take Armenia out of the Moscow-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organisation, a group of several former Soviet nations, and other Russia-led alliances. Armenia also hosts a Russian military base and Russian border guards help patrol Armenia’s frontier with Turkey.