International Court Warrant for Putin Has Made Peace Harder: Serb Prez

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) – Issuing an international arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin will have negative consequences and will only prolong the war in Ukraine, the Serbian president said on Sunday.

The International Criminal Court on Friday issued a warrant against the Russian leader, accusing him of war crimes. The ICC nearly accused him of being personally responsible for kidnapping a child from Ukraine during Russia’s all-out invasion of the neighboring country that began 13 months ago.

But Serbian populist President Alexander Vucic, who has boasted of personal ties with the Russian leader in the past, criticized the court’s decision.

“I think issuing an arrest warrant for Putin and not getting into legal issues would have bad political consequences. He said he was very reluctant to speak.”

“My question is that you have accused him of the greatest war crimes, who are you going to talk to?” Vucic said.

“Do you really think you can beat Russia in a month, three months, or a year?” There is no doubt that it is to allow a person to recognize that he is accused of war crimes.”

Asked if Putin would be arrested if he came to Serbia, Vucic said: “It’s a nonsensical question because it’s clear that as long as the conflict (in Ukraine) continues, Putin has nowhere to go.” .

Serbia has sought membership in the European Union but maintains close ties with Russia and is the only European country to refuse to join international sanctions against Russia.

A strong opponent of the International War Crimes Tribunal, the Vucic is a suprastate whose leader Vojislav Seselj and several other members ended up in the International War Crimes Tribunal during trials for crimes they committed during the wars of the 1990s. He was a high-ranking party official.

In the late 1990s, during the war in Kosovo, Vucic was the Minister of Information in Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic government, and the Serbian military was accused of various war crimes committed against Kosovo’s Albanian separatists.

Milosevic was arrested in Serbia in 2001 on war crimes charges. He died at the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague in 2006, before the end of his trial for crimes committed by Serbian forces during the war in the Balkans in the 1990s.

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