Armenian Parliament approves membership of International Criminal Court amid strained relations with Russia

YEREVAN — Armenia’s parliament has voted in favor of joining the International Criminal Court (ICC), a decision that adds tension to the already strained ties with longtime ally Russia. The move comes in the wake of an ICC arrest warrant issued for Russian President Vladimir Putin over alleged war crimes related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov, anticipating the vote, labeled Armenia’s decision to join the ICC as “extremely hostile” toward Russia. Moscow had previously expressed discontent, considering it an “unfriendly step”, and summoned Armenia’s ambassador after the announcement of the intention to join the ICC.

The Rome Statute, which Armenia aims to ratify, obligates signatory countries to arrest indicted individuals, including Putin, accused of war crimes. Despite Moscow’s opposition, Armenian officials insist that their decision is motivated by Azerbaijan’s aggression against the country, unrelated to Russia.

The parliamentary vote, with a tally of 60-22, in favor of the Rome Statute’s ratification signifies Armenia’s commitment to the ICC. The decision awaits the approval of Armenia’s president and will become effective 60 days after the vote.

The move further exacerbates Armenia’s already strained relationship with Russia, marked by discord over the 2020 peace deal brokered by Moscow between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The deal resulted in territorial concessions by Yerevan to Baku, and Armenia accuses Russian peacekeepers of failing to prevent subsequent hostilities by Azerbaijan.

The Kremlin, in turn, blames Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan for damaging ties with Russia by aligning with the West and hosting U.S. troops for joint military drills. The future stance of Armenia within Moscow-dominated alliances, including the Collective Security Treaty Organization, remains uncertain.

As tensions escalate, the geopolitical dynamics in the region continue to evolve, raising questions about Armenia’s diplomatic trajectory and its enduring ties with Russia.