Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi and Adolf Hitler. In recent weeks, parallels have been drawn from Russia with three of the worst heads of state in history.
They have all been mentioned since the start of the invasion of Ukraine. At the same time, two questions hung in the air: What will be the fate of Vladimir Putin when the war ends?
Why does no one enter and take the Russian president?
– catastrophic situation
Professor in the Department of Sociology and Political Science at NTNU, Joe Jacobsen, has been following developments in Ukraine closely in recent weeks. He says there is a specific reason why Putin appears to be safe in Moscow, while the war he himself started has caused suffering among civilians and soldiers.
– First of all, they largely ceased to liquidate heads of state. So it is unlikely in this context. The forces that would remove him must come from within Russia. You can go to Iraq and Libya, but we’ve never been in a situation where you’re trying to remove a leader with massive amounts of nuclear weapons, says Jacobsen and elaborates:
– For this reason, one is very careful about proposing forced regime changes in Russia. If you start drawing Putin in a corner, the situation becomes very unsafe. The weapons are so incomprehensiblely cruel that NATO and the West are very hesitant. If Putin is really afraid of his life, he has little to lose. It is a potentially disastrous situation. In this sense, it is much safer than if it were without nuclear weapons. The professor says it would put the whole world at risk if you went in and tried to take over Putin.
One of the two scenarios
He believes that the Russian president will never clearly signal from the outside that he will surrender and lay down his arms in Ukraine. However, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been evaluated, according to Jacobsen.
He says that there are first and foremost two scenarios that now determine the future of the two countries and that of Putin.
– The most important thing is how the war is going. There you have to start. If you win a war, you also dictate peace. Jacobsen explains that if Russia had won an easy victory, they would have been able to largely dictate what would happen to Ukraine and partly with European security.
But the Ukrainian forces gave the Russians unexpected resistance. What seemed like a plan based on a simple victory turned out to be something completely different.
Jacobsen believes that it is difficult to predict and know where the war will continue. However, something can be assumed, based on previous wars.
– That the war usually ends if one of two things happens: that one side clearly wins or the war stops, that there is no longer movement and that the costs and fatigue become so great that the war “ends”, says the professor.
– You can get some kind of victory
Signs so far point to the latter. Among other things, the much-discussed Russian military column of more than sixty miles long remained roughly static for several days.
There are signs that one is approaching a recession, but it is too early to prove that. Exhaustion on both sides will eventually lead to surrender. The Korean War actually lasted for three years, but two of those were somewhat stagnant. It may seem like you’re already on your way to burnout in Ukraine, says Jacobsen.
At the same time, the professor believes that there is great skepticism about the potential powers of Russia. President Putin does not appear to have lost faith that the battle could go his way.
How long will it take before he finally admits that there is a downtime that is impossible to predict. Jacobsen believes, however, that it won’t necessarily take as long as it does in Korea.
– If there is no Russian progress in the coming weeks or months, they are much weaker in terms of victory. I do not think that this war will last for many years, and Russia does not have the capacity to do so. Especially against Ukraine, which receives support from the West, he says.
Can Putin and Russia still win this war?
– They can still achieve some kind of victory, but it will be much more difficult than the Russians had imagined, says Jacobsen.
interrogation with Putin
The International Criminal Court in The Hague earlier in March launched an investigation into the Russian invasion. Ukraine is not a member of the International Criminal Court.
The court is still investigating possible war crimes in the country because 39 member states, including Norway, have requested it. Ukraine has also given the International Criminal Court permission to investigate crimes on Ukrainian soil.
The court’s most strict staff is life imprisonment.
How likely is Putin to be found guilty of war crimes?
Putin is a head of state in a country that is not a member of the International Criminal Court and that makes the starting point difficult, says Solicitor General Sigrid Reeds Johansen.
An investigation into the Russian war can affect military leaders at all levels of the military chain of command, but Rydsee Johansen explains that the ICC has a tradition of first and foremost prosecuting top commanders.
As head of state, Putin enjoys immunity from prosecution in other countries.
– Rydsee Johansen says that the issuance of arrest warrants for a member of the government in another country has not been done by individual countries before, and refers to the time when Belgium issued an arrest warrant for former Congolese Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Yroudia Ndombasi in 2000.
The International Court of Justice in The Hague has upheld the Congo because the arrest warrant violates the immunity of the current minister.
You must leave Russia
Therefore, only the ICC will be able to prosecute him for war crimes committed in Ukraine, but it is not that easy because Russia is a member of the Security Council and not a party to the ICC.
If the court brought charges against him, it would initially be possible to arrest him in all countries, but it is currently difficult to envisage this in practice. This means that he must leave Russia if this is to happen.
One can also assume that if Putin leaves Russia, he will travel to a country that is not a member of the International Criminal Court, says Rydsee Johansen.
123 countries are members of the court. Israel, Russia, Sudan and the United States are among the countries that are not.
Civil compensation claims
A judicial settlement after the Ukraine war could take place in more ways than Putin’s trial by the International Criminal Court, and neither is mutually exclusive. Among other things, there may be civilian settlements in the aftermath of the war.
Compensation settlement has historically been an important part of the legal settlement picture and is something that also helps create legal reform, says Redsey Johansen.
After the civil war in Sierra Leone in the 1990s and early 2000s, a special tribunal was established by agreement between the United Nations and the authorities in Sierra Leone, and after the war in Yugoslavia and the Rwandan genocide, separate tribunals were established by the United Nations Security Council. According to Reeds Johansen, this will not be possible now, since Russia is part of the Security Council.
– What could also happen, among other things, is that so-called truth commissions are created, she says.
It lies in the word. The commission of inquiry aims to find out what happened, for example in the war.
Time will tell which legal settlement will come and whether one will be able to convict Putin of war crimes. She says that there appears to be a great political will to punish and this will has historically proven to be of great importance.
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