The former national security advisor said he considered the International Criminal Court “fundamentally illegitimate” FILE PHOTO: John Bolton speaks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC, September 30, 2019 © AP / Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Former US national security advisor John Bolton has come out against the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to indict Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling the court “fundamentally illegitimate.”
“I believe and have for many years [that] the International Criminal Court is fundamentally illegitimate,” Bolton told Sky News on Monday, adding that its arrest warrant for Putin is “not something that the United States should cooperate with.”
“It’s a very dangerous institution,” he continued. “It is an exercise of governmental power in a vacuum without any constitutional framework to restrain it.”
The Court’s pre-trial Chamber issued a warrant on Friday for the arrest of Putin and Russian Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova for the “unlawful deportation” of children from “occupied areas of Ukraine.” The charges refer to Russia’s efforts to evacuate civilians away from areas – mostly in the predominantly Russian-speaking region of Donbass – shelled by the Ukrainian military.
Neither the US nor Russia recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction. Speaking to reporters on Friday, US President Joe Biden said that he believed the arrest warrant was “justified,” but admitted that the court was “not recognized by us either.”
In addition to sanctioning a number of top International Criminal Court officials in 2020, the US maintains the ‘Hague Invasion Act’, giving its military permission to invade the Netherlands were any US citizens detained at the court.
As George W. Bush’s undersecretary of state, Bolton signed the official letter withdrawing the US from its jurisdiction in 2002. As Donald Trump’s national security advisor, he threatened sanctions against anyone cooperating with its investigations into alleged US war crimes in Afghanistan.
While Bolton has maintained for two decades that the ICC is a “direct assault on the concept of national sovereignty,” he argued on Monday that its indictment of Putin could hinder eventual peace talks in Ukraine.
“If you want negotiations to take place, do you think an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin makes it more likely or less likely he will negotiate?” he asked Sky’s Kay Burley. Instead, he suggested that either Ukraine or a hypothetical pro-Western government in Moscow should try the Russian president.
Bolton is a lifelong advocate for using US hard power against other nations, and throughout his political career has called for regime change or military action in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Libya, North Korea, Venezuela, and Russia. Last summer, he admitted to CNN that he had “helped plan coups d’etat” around the world.
The Kremlin is “unfazed” by the charges against Putin, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday. Peskov has previously called the indictment “null and void from a legal standpoint.”