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Serbian president criticizes ICC arrest warrant for Putin

Belgrade, Serbia — 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 issued the arrest warrant for the Russian leader on Friday, charging him with war crimes. The ICC has accused him of being personally responsible for child abductions in Ukraine during Russia’s large-scale invasion of its neighbor that began nearly 13 months ago.

But populist Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who has in the past bragged about his personal relationship with the Russian leader, criticized the court’s decision.

“I think that issuing an arrest warrant for Putin, for not getting into legal cases, will have bad political consequences and that says there is a great reluctance to talk about peace (and) truce” in Ukraine, Vucic told reporters in Belgrade.

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

“Do you really think it is possible to defeat Russia in a month, three months or a year?” he asked, adding: “There is no doubt that the aim of those who did this is to make it difficult for Putin to communicate, so that everyone who talks to him knows that he is accused of war crimes .”

When asked if Putin would be arrested if he came to Serbia, Vucic replied that it was “a pointless question, because it is clear that as long as the conflict (in Ukraine) continues, Putin has nowhere where to go”.

Although Serbia is seeking membership in the European Union, it has maintained close ties with Russia and is the only European state that has refused to join international sanctions against Moscow.

Vucic, a staunch opponent of international war crimes tribunals, was a senior member of an ultra-nationalist party whose leader Vojislav Seselj and several other members ended up before the international war crimes tribunal for trials for the crimes he they committed during the wars of the 1990s.

In the late 1990s, Vucic was Minister of Information in the government of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic during the war in Kosovo where Serbian troops were accused of various war crimes committed against Kosovo Albanian separatists.

Milosevic was arrested in Serbia for war crimes in 2001. He died before the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague in 2006 before the end of his trial for crimes committed by Serbian troops during the Balkan wars in the 1990s.

ABC News

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