- John Bolton said the United States should not cooperate with the arrest warrant issued by International Criminal Court (ICC) for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
- The ICC has accused Putin of war crimes for the alleged deportation of Ukrainian children.
- Bolton believes the ICC’s arrest warrant could hinder peace negotiations in Ukraine.
Former national security adviser John Bolton on Monday called the International Criminal Court “fundamentally illegitimate” and said the United States should not “cooperate” with the ICC’s arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Bolton made the comments during an interview with Sky News in which he discussed the ICC’s Friday announcement that it had issued a warrant for Putin for war crimes.
Hague investigators had worked on evidence against Putin for over a year before the ICC issued the arrest warrant that accused the Russian leader of being “allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”
Soon after the ICC’s announcement, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the Russian Federation does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC and thus considers the warrant “null and void.”
“I believe and have for many years the International Criminal Court is fundamentally illegitimate. It’s not something the United States should cooperate with,” Bolton told Sky News. “This is not in any way to excuse Putin’s conduct of the war, but there are jurisdictions that can try him—Ukraine in particular, and ultimately a free Russia to try him.”
He continued, “The International Criminal Court is illegitimate because it is an exercise of governmental power in a vacuum without any constitutional framework to restrain it. And it’s a very dangerous institution.”
He added that while he feels Ukraine has the right to issue an arrest warrant for Putin, he questioned the usefulness of putting Putin on trial in absentia. Bolton called such a move a “stab in the back” that could have the unintended consequences of enhancing Putin’s standing among Russians.
Bolton said “a new Russian government at some point” should weigh in on accusations of war crimes against Putin. Then the decision on the leader’s fate would be made by the Russian people, similar to how “Iraq made the judgment to convict and execute Saddam Hussein.”
Bolton, who served as the United Nations ambassador to the United Nations from 2005 to 2006 before he worked as national security adviser under former President Donald Trump, also told Sky News that he feels the ICC’s arrest warrant could also hinder peace negotiations in Ukraine.
“I think the conduct of the International Criminal Court is potentially threatening at this point to a diplomatic solution 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?” Bolton said.
Bolton frequently appears on news programs to discuss U.S. domestic and international issues. In October, he appeared on the British radio station LBC and called on President Joe Biden‘s administration to increase efforts to deter Russia from using nuclear weapons, saying the U.S. should make it “clear we will levy responsibility” on Putin if he orders such a strike.
“We need to make clear if Putin were to order the use of a tactical nuclear weapon he would be signing a suicide note,” he said during the LBC appearance. “I think that’s what it may take to deter him if he gets into extreme circumstances.”
Newsweek reached out to the White House and the ICC via email for comment.
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