“The Roman status officially came into effect for Armenia on February 1,” Armenian justice official Jegishe Kirakosyan told AFP. He added that this gives Yerevan “important tools to prevent war crimes and crimes against humanity on its territory.” According to him, this is especially true in the case of Azerbaijan, with whom Armenia has been fighting over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
In October, members of the unicameral Armenian parliament decided to accept the jurisdiction of the international court. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called it an “extremely hostile” move at the time.
Last year, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Putin and Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvovova-Belovova in connection with the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. Moscow does not recognize the tribunal and has rejected the charges. She criticized Armenia’s decision to join the ICC.
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Yerevan claims that this step is not aimed at Russia, but that it took it precisely because of neighboring Azerbaijan. The larger and better-armed neighbor recently claimed a swift military victory that ended a long-running dispute over Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh.
The region, which had been under the control of Armenian separatists since the 1980s, was taken over by Azerbaijan last September after a lightning offensive, after which more than 100,000 Karabakh residents left for Armenia. In connection with the end of independent Karabakh, Yerevan accused Russia of not coming to its aid, although it is its ally. Moscow rejected the criticism.