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Armenian Lawmakers Vote to Join ICC Despite Moscow's Protests

Vladimir Putin and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. Ilya Pitalyov, Russia Today /

Updated to add the Kremlin's reaction.

Armenian lawmakers voted Tuesday for their country to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), a move that is likely to provoke outrage from Moscow, the South Caucasus nation's longtime ally.

The Kremlin criticized the decision by Armenia's parliament to move towards joining the Hague-based court, which has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"We are doubtful that from the point of view of bilateral relations, Armenia's accession to the Rome Statute is correct. We still believe that it is the wrong decision," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

ICC member states are required to arrest Putin if he steps foot on their territory.

A broadcast of the Armenian parliament session on Tuesday showed 60 deputies voting in favor of joining the ICC, while 22 mainly opposition lawmakers voted against the proposal.

Opposition parties, which control 36 seats in Armenia's 107-seat legislature, protested the move by staging a walk-out from the plenary session.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan last week sought to assuage Kremlin fears about his country joining the Hague-based court, saying: "The decision is not directed against... Russia. It comes from the interests of the country's external security, and taking such a decision is our sovereign right."

In March, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Putin and his children’s rights commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova over the “unlawful deportation” of Ukrainian children during the invasion of Ukraine.

Tensions between Yerevan and Moscow have been rising over the role of Russian peacekeepers in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, which announced its dissolution last week following a lightning military operation by Baku.

Armenia's representative on international legal matters told parliament that the decision to join the ICC was concerned with the country's national security.

"We are creating additional guarantees for Armenia" in the face of the threat to the country's territorial integrity from arch-foe Azerbaijan, Eghishe Kirakosyan told lawmakers.

Following Yerevan's move on Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Peskov warned that Armenia had no alternative to the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

"I think that most people in Armenia realize that the CSTO instruments are absolutely irreplaceable," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. "The Armenian side has nothing better than these mechanisms, we are sure of that."

AFP contributed reporting.

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