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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

ICC to Open War Crimes Cases Tied to Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Reports indicate that the International Criminal Court (ICC) plans to open two war crimes cases related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and issue arrest warrants for “several people,” according to anonymous sources cited by Reuters and the New York Times.

The cases would represent the first international charges brought since the start of Russia’s war and are the result of months of investigation by special ICC teams. The first case concerns Russia’s alleged abduction of Ukrainian children, while the second case focuses on the “unrelenting” targeting of civilian infrastructure, including water supplies and gas tanks.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan must first present his charges to a panel of pretrial judges, who will determine whether legal standards have been met for issuing arrest warrants or whether investigators need additional evidence. The ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor declined to comment on the reports.

ICC’s Khan visited Ukraine last month to probe Russia’s attacks on power and other infrastructure. Speaking to reporters during the visit, Khan said: “We see clearly a pattern, I think, in terms of the number, scale and breadth of attacks against the power grids of Ukraine. And we need to look at why that’s taking place; are they legitimate targets or not; and whether or not they are targeted for other reasons.”

“There seems to be a lot of damage in Ukraine, and it may well be it is part of a policy and part of a plan and we need to get to the bottom of it and see whether or not there is criminal responsibility and if there is we have an International Criminal Court that has jurisdiction to look into it,” he added.

The chief prosecutor was asked whether the court’s process could be too slow to meet Ukrainians’ expectations. In response, he stated that “what people want are not Pyrrhic victories.”

“As a prosecutor we are officers of the court. We are not here to get a round of applause by a conjuring trick. Whenever we do move, (people) should have confidence that this is not a political process,” he continued.

Official Ukrainian statistics indicate that 345 Ukrainian children have disappeared since Russia’s February 2022 invasion, including 15-year-old Arina Yatsiuk, as reported by CNN earlier this month. The Ukrainian government alleges that many of the missing children were abducted and taken to Russia against their will. Meanwhile, the Russian government has openly acknowledged taking Ukrainian children and promoting their adoption by Russian families as part of its propaganda.

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