Ukrainian War, November 7, 2022 (II): Putin to announce whether he will attend G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia; If he goes, it will be a great opportunity to arrest him

The news today is that Vladimir Putin will decide within a week whether he will travel to the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia later this month.

If he does, two things should happen.

First, President Joe Biden and other G-20 leaders should announce they will not attend the summit, and will also suspend participation in all G-20 activities so long as Russia participates in the G-20.

We have also recommended that they formally withdraw from the G-20 and form a new organization comprised if civilized countries dedicated to economic development and increased trade within the framework of the United Nations Charter.

Second, Putin’s travel to Indonesia represents an excellent opportunity to arrest him for the international crime of aggression and war crimes and crimes against humanity, and the crime of genocide as indicated by Russian commission of acts of genocide as detailed in the 1948 Genocide Convention, to which Russia is a party.

An internation arrest warrant or “red flag notice should be issued for Putin’s arrest. If it isn’t, indivual countries exercising international jurisdiction should formally request Putin’s arrest under the terms of their bilateral extradition treaties with Indonesia.

Putin’s trip to Bali would represent a rare opportunity to arrest this depraved war criminal, who has the blood of tens of thousands of Ukrainians–with more added every day–dripping from his hands.


Adapted from from The Trenchant Observer, April 29, 2022.

strong>Putin to attend G-20 in Jakarta, Indonesian leader says

While at first glance the news that Vladimir Putin plans to attend the G-20 meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia is disconcerting, reflecting the utter failure of American diplomacy in the developing countries and its failure to push for Russia’s exclusion from the group, there may be a silver lining.

Putin’s travel to Jakarta could provide a magnificent chance to arrest him for the crime of aggression, crimes against humanity, and other war crimes.

The International Criminal Court, Ukraine, or another country could request a red-notice arrest warrant for Putin through INTERPOL. The U.S. would need to use all its muscle to ensure no one at INTERPOL blocks the issuance of the red-notice international arrest warrant.

This could pose challenges, as the current president of INTERPOL, United Arab Emirates’ major general Ahmed Naser al-Raisi, has himself been accused of torturing detainees, and the UAE notably has abstained on several U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Nonetheless, the request for a “red notice” INTERPOL international arrest warrant for Putin should be made, and vigorously pursued.

Assuming the arrest warrant is issued, the U.S. would have to pull out all the stops, in conjunction withs its allies, to pressure the Indonesian government of Joko Widodo to execute the arrest warrant while Putin is in Indonesia.

The CIA and other intelligence agencies from the “Big 5”, preferably with Widodo’s consent, might be able to choreograph the capture of Putin and his removal to a secure location for holding, pending his transfer to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, or to Ukraine for trial there once the situation has stabilized.

Putin could also be tried in any country with universal jurisdiction under its laws to try someone for “international crimes”, such as the crime of aggression, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of genocide.

Consequently, once arrested, there are a number of countries in which Putin might be tried.

At trial, would Putin have a valid defense that he is immune from prosecution because he is a head of state?

While earlier customary international law recognized head of state immunity, the situation has changed since the creation of the International Criminal Court. The Court’s Appeals Chamber held in 2019 that no such immunity exists.

See Dapo Akande, “ICC Appeals Chamber Holds that Heads of State Have No Immunity Under Customary International Law Before International Tribunals,” EJIL Talk!, May 6, 2019.

While from the point of view of international law, the kidnapping by Israeli agents of Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires and his removal to Israel in 1960, and his subsequent trial in Israel in 1961, is rather dubious, it does represent a certain kind of precedent.

Countries reacting to such a breach of international law would have to determine whether it was somehow justified in the extraordinary case of a war criminal who was trying to overthrow the U.N. Charter, international law itself, and the entire international legal order, through the illegal use of force and the crimes for which he would be tried.

In any event, American diplomats should begin the necessary work to ensure the successful arrest of Putin as soon as possible,

If they run unto obstacles, they should at least exercise strong pressure–using the economic and other tools at the disposition of the United States–to secure the expulsion of Russia from the Group of 20.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.