Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed to make his first foreign trip since a warrant for his arrest over alleged war crimes was issued by the International Criminal Court, reports John Dunne from Evening Standard.
The Kremlin is preparing for the Russian president to visit China for the Belt and Road Forum in October, according to Bloomberg sources.
Putin has accepted the invitation from Chinese President Xi Jinping to attend the event.
He has remained primarily within Russia or countries formerly held by the Soviet Union since the court issued its warrant in March. Putin risks arrest if he steps into territory which is a signatory to the Rome statute on war crimes.
Putin’s trip to China will come months after Chinese President Xi Jinping made his own visit to Moscow in March.
The two countries have declared themselves friends, and China has rebuffed Western calls to urge Putin to end his war in Ukraine.
During Xi’s March visit to Moscow, the two leaders declared their countries to have a “friendship without limits.” The countries remain aligned in pushing back against Western leadership across the globe.
The court has issued arrest warrants for the Russian president and Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, in relation to the forced deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia, where many have been adopted by Russian families.
Forced deportation of populations is recognised as a crime under the Rome statute that established the court. Russia was a signatory to the Rome statute, but withdrew in 2016, saying it did not recognise the jurisdiction of the court.
Although Ukraine is itself not a signatory to the court in The Hague, it granted the ICC jurisdiction to investigate war crimes committed on its territory.
Four visits by the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, over the past year have led to a ruling that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility” for the child abduction.
Earlier this month South Africa faced a dilemma in hosting the BRICS economic summit because, as a member of the ICC which issued an arrest warrant for Putin in March for alleged war crimes, it would theoretically be required to arrest him if he were to attend.
The Russian president opted to attend the summit virtually from Moscow.
The fifteenth annual BRICS summit, an international relations conference attended by the heads of state or heads of government of the five member states Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.