Zelensky has warned Russia has been ramping up attacks ahead of the winter
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. AFP News

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said Vladimir Putin has only two options: face The Hague or be "killed by one of his accomplices". Zelensky made the remarks at the Munich Security Conference in Germany last week.

He also spoke about Putin critic Alexei Navalny's death, who was found dead by Russia's prison service on Friday. Navalny was behind several reports that detail corruption in Russia and the Putin administration.

"After the murder of Alexei Navalny, it's absurd to perceive Putin as a supposedly legitimate head of a Russian state, and he is a thug who maintains power through corruption and violence," the Week quoted Zelensky as saying.

"Just yesterday, he tried to send us all a clear message as the Munich Security Conference opened. Putin murdered another opposition leader. Let's not fear Putin's defeat and the destruction of his regime. Let's instead stand together to destroy what he stands for," he added.

Who was Navalny?

In 2013, Navalny was sentenced to five years in prison for embezzlement. He was found guilty of misappropriating around 16 million rubles (£223,000) worth of timber from a state-owned company. The sentence was described as "unprecedented" by legal experts and was widely seen as politically motivated.

The sentence was suspended several months later, and Navalny launched a bid to run in the 2018 election at the end of 2016. His presidential campaign was thwarted when the 2013 embezzlement charges were revived again at a retrial in December 2016.

The previous case had been annulled by the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled that Russia had violated Navalny's right to a fair trial. He was later charged with a five-year suspended sentence, which he claims is an attempt to prevent him from running for the presidency in 2018.

He was sentenced to nine years in a maximum security penal colony in 2022 after years of tug-of-war with the Russian authorities. He was found guilty of large-scale fraud and contempt by a Russian court.

The big picture:

Zelensky has often said that Putin would face the International Criminal Court in The Hague once Ukraine wins the war. Putin "deserves to be sentenced for these criminal actions right here in the capital of the international law," said Zelensky in a speech delivered in The Hague last year in May.

"And I'm sure we will see that happen when we win. And we will win," he added. The ICC investigates and tries individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community.

In March last year, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin based on the alleged war crime of forcibly deporting Ukrainian children. It also issued a warrant against Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia's presidential commissioner for children's rights, on similar charges.

The arrest warrant was rejected as "void" by Moscow. It needs to be noted that Russia is not a party to the ICC and, therefore, not bound by its jurisdiction.

However, Putin can be arrested if he sets foot in any of the ICC's more than 120 member states. The ICC was established in 2002 as a court of last resort for the worst crimes in the world when countries can't prosecute suspects.

US billionaire Elon Musk also made similar claims about Putin being unable to stop the war. He said that Putin needs to see the war in Ukraine through. Otherwise, he risks being "assassinated".

Musk made the shocking statement during a discussion with US Senators in a forum on X Spaces.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Experts had expected that the war would end within a few months, but Ukraine has managed to give Russia a tough fight. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has even warned of the war between the two countries escalating into World War Three.

"It seems to me that the Chancellor (Olaf Scholz) is aware of this risk," Zelensky said, adding that if Russia hits a NATO country, it would be "the beginning of the Third World War".