This move is aimed at limiting President Putin’s personal travel options, prompting those countries that aren’t part of the ICC to signal that they’d feel uncomfortable with the optics of hosting him, and pressuring African leaders to cancel their plans to travel to St. Petersburg for this July’s Second Russia-Africa Summit.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for President Putin’s arrest late last week in a move that most regarded as purely symbolic considering the impossibility of enforcing it in Russia. This in turn prompted interpretations that it was done mostly for information warfare purposes related to reinforcing Western perceptions about the Ukrainian Conflict in order to prevent this proxy war’s most passionate supporters from losing hope if Russia captures Artyomovsk/“Bakhmut”.
That scenario is increasingly likely after “The Washington Post Finally Told The Full Truth About How Poorly Kiev’s Forces Are Faring”, which followed Zelensky telling CNN in an exclusive interview that Russia might roll through the rest of Donbass if it takes control of that city. That sequence of events could quickly reshape Western perceptions to the point where many who previously supported their governments’ blank check policy towards Kiev might seriously begin to doubt whether it’s worth it.
Ulterior Information Warfare Motivations
There might have been more to the ICC’s provocation than just that, however, as strongly suggested by one of CNN’s latest reports about how “Putin’s world just got a lot smaller with the ICC’s arrest warrant”. International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson let slip that this could actually have been revenge for the West’s failure to isolate Russia, the interpretation of which is intuited by reading between the lines of what he wrote.
That perception manager spent the entire time trying to convince readers that President Putin is probably personally upset that he can’t travel to any of the 123 countries that participate in this partially recognized and highly scandalous body. Robertson implies that the lack of in-person meetings between that Russian leader and his counterparts could deal a heavy blow to his country’s diplomacy, conspicuously omitting that global diplomacy has mostly been conducted online since 2020.
His artificially manufactured information warfare narrative comes several weeks after “The New York Times Just Admitted That The West Failed To Isolate Russia”, thus extending credence to the interpretation that the timing of the ICC’s provocation was partially meant to distract from this reality. That aforementioned article importantly followed Indian Ambassador to Russia Pavan Kapoor expressing hope in early February that President Putin will attend this year’s SCO and BRICS Summits in India.
The Indian Dimension
As recently as last week, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “It cannot be ruled out” that the Russian leader will visit that country later this year, “But no decision has been made yet.” Nevertheless, “India’s Invitation For Putin To Attend This Year’s G20 Summit Proves That He Isn’t A ‘Pariah’”, which infuriated the US-led West’s Golden Billion to no end. This de facto New Cold War bloc knows that his attendance at that event would shatter perceptions about their global influence once and for all.
The New York Times already predicted at the end of last year that “Russia’s War Could Make It India’s World”, informing their audience that this South Asian state has masterfully managed to accelerate its rise as a globally significant Great Power throughout the course of the past year’s chaotic developments. The British High Commissioner to India even recently opined that his host country is poised to become “one of the three defining countries in the world, the US and China being the others.”
His words circumstantiate predictions about the impending trifurcation of International Relations into the US-led West’s Golden Billion, the Sino-Russo Entente, and the de facto Indian-led Global South. The relevance of this insight to the present piece is that Robertson sought to fearmonger about President Putin’s potential trip to India in his article, which lends weight to the claim that the ICC wanted to take revenge against Russia for the West’s failure to isolate it by limiting its leader’s foreign travel options.
CNN’s International Diplomatic Editor wrote that “Putin faces a dilemma now, if he shows up in Delhi for this year’s G20 in September. India, like the USA, is not signed up to the ICC, but what will Prime Minister Narendra Modi do?” There’s no realistic chance that this will happen, but speculating otherwise is intended to deter President Putin from traveling to India for the SCO and BRICS Summits as well as sow the seeds of suspicion in the Russian-Indian Strategic Partnership.
Robertson then added that “Without careful planning Putin could touch down in a country apparently unaligned with the ICC and not beholden to the international law requirements he be handed over to the Hague, yet for unseen international political pressure, or their own new found desire for international justice triggering a legal process to get him to the Hague.” This particular passage is intended to scare the Russian leader away from traveling to any country in the Global South.
“Containing” President Putin To China
Amidst the impending trifurcation of International Relations that was previously touched upon, this could essentially limit President Putin to only ever traveling to China, with which Russia is nowadays in an unofficial entente. The preceding observation, however, is only relevant in the event that his security services either assess that there’s a credible risk of Robertson’s scenario transpiring or potential host countries signal behind the scenes that they don’t want the negative optics of him visiting.
In either case, the outcome would be that popular perceptions about his personal “isolation” are reinforced in the minds of the targeted global audience, thus partially reviving the West’s narrative in this respect. It doesn’t matter that Russian diplomacy can continue to be practiced through virtual means and that almost all agreements reached between leaders are usually worked out by their diplomats ahead of their summits since this is all about repairing damage to the West’s reputation.
Meddling In Bilateral Relations
The secondary purpose as intuited by what Robertson just let slip in his article is to pressure those states that aren’t party to the ICC into signaling to Russia that they’re uncomfortable hosting President Putin due to the resultant Western-driven information warfare campaign that would follow. Bilateral relations likely wouldn’t suffer in that scenario since Moscow is well aware of how intense its opponents’ pressure can be on others, but this could still further reinforce the aforesaid popular perceptions.
The African Angle
Building upon this objective, it also can’t be discounted that the tertiary goal is to sabotage the Second Russia-Africa Summit that’s slated for July exactly as Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov warned late last month. In this context, the modus operandi might be to pressure leaders from those African countries that are party to the ICC into canceling their planned trips under the implied threat that going through with them would unleash a new wave of Western-driven Hybrid Warfare against them.
The Golden Billion is furious that Russia is helping African countries liberate themselves from France’s decades-long neo-imperialism, hence the urgency in sabotaging this July’s Second Russia-Africa Summit through the aforementioned means. This doesn’t of course mean that they’ll succeed, but just that there’s a very high chance that they’ll weaponize the ICC’s provocation for that purpose, though it could backfire if enough African leaders whose countries participate in that body still defy the West.
Upon reflecting on the grand strategic context within which the ICC just issued its warrant for President Putin’s arrest, it becomes clear that this is truly a form of revenge for the West’s failure to isolate Russia. This move is aimed at limiting his personal travel options, prompting those countries that aren’t part of the ICC to signal that they’d feel uncomfortable with the optics of hosting him, and pressuring African leaders to cancel their plans to travel to St. Petersburg for this July’s Second Russia-Africa Summit.