International Criminal Court to initiate war crimes cases against Russia
The International Criminal Court (ICC) intends to open two war crimes cases related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and seek arrest warrants for several individuals. This was reported to The New York Times by several current and former officials who are not allowed to speak about it publicly.
These cases will be the first international accusations made since the beginning of the conflict and will follow months of work by special investigative teams. The prosecutor’s office claims that Russia sent Ukrainian children and youth from the occupied territories for “re-education”. According to a report by Yale University’s Conflict Observatory analysts, Russia is holding at least 6,000 Ukrainian children in orphanages, boarding schools and other institutions. Researchers confirm information about “patriotic re-education”, which Moscow calls “pro-Russian integration programs”.
Russia made no secret of its agenda: Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova began transporting children to Russia a few weeks after the invasion began in February 2022, and then regularly promoted the adoption of Ukrainian children.
In the second case, the chief prosecutor of the ICC will investigate Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure. The U.S. government has evidence that sheds light on the Kremlin’s decisions to deliberately hit key civilian infrastructure, and many in the Biden administration are advocating releasing it to the court, even though the U.S. is not a member of it, NYT sources say. However, the U.S. Department of Defense is blocking intelligence sharing because it fears setting a precedent that could pave the way for similar prosecutions against Americans. President Biden has yet to decide whether to approve the material’s release, officials said.
ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan will have to formulate charges before a panel of judges who will decide whether legal standards for issuing arrest warrants have been met. Otherwise, investigators will have to provide additional evidence.
It is not known who the court plans to indict in each of the cases. The prosecution indicated that it did not publicly discuss the details of its ongoing investigations. Some NYT interlocutors believe that charges could be brought against Russian President Vladimir Putin because the court does not recognize the immunity of the head of state in cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide. However, experts say that the likelihood of such a trial is low: the court cannot hear cases in absentia, and Russia is unlikely to extradite officials.