The Armenian Parliament ratified, on Tuesday October 3, the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) after short debates on this project, which aroused the wrath of Moscow, Yerevan’s traditional ally with which relations have become considerably strained .

The elected officials expressed themselves in favor of ratification, by sixty votes against twenty-two. Russia viewed this project with a very negative eye, the ICC having issued an arrest warrant against President Vladimir Putin in the spring. Joining the ICC “would create additional guarantees for Armenia” against Azerbaijan, Yeghishe Kirakosyan, an Armenian official responsible for international justice affairs, argued at the opening of the debates on Tuesday.

Baku has just won a lightning military victory, putting an end to the separatism of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. Yerevan, which accuses Russia of having abandoned it in the face of a much richer and better armed adversary, is now worried about the security of its territory.

“Deterrent effect”

Ratifying this status guarantees that a potential invasion of Armenia “will fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC”, which will have a “deterrent effect”, declared Mr. Kirakosyan before the Armenian elected officials. Armenia signed the Rome Statute in 1999 but did not ratify it, citing contradictions with its Constitution. The official assured that he had proposed to Russia to sign “a bilateral agreement” to allay its concerns, without giving further details.

“These decisions are extremely hostile for us,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov declared to the press on Thursday, October 28. “We hope, of course, that these decisions will not have a negative impact on our bilateral relations,” he added, however, recalling that Russia “does not recognize” this status and is not among the countries that ratified it.

Yerevan, which had moved closer to the West in recent months, felt let down during Azerbaijan’s recent offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh – something the Kremlin denies. Russia deployed a peacekeeping force in this territory three years ago after a brief attack by Azerbaijan. But his troops did not move during Baku’s latest offensive.