ICC to open war crimes cases following Russian invasion of Ukraine, NYT and Reuters report


The International Criminal Court (ICC) plans to open two war crimes cases related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and issue arrest warrants for “several people”, according to The New York Times (NYT) and Reuters, citing current and former officials with knowledge of the decision who were not authorized to speak publicly.

According to the NYT, the cases would represent the first international charges to be brought since the start of the war in Russia and come after months of work by ICC special investigative teams.

The first case the ICC is about to open concerns the alleged kidnapping of Ukrainian children by Russia. The second concerns Russia’s “relentless” targeting of civilian infrastructure, including water supplies and gas reservoirs, according to the NYT.

ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan’s first step is to present his charges to a panel of pre-trial judges, who will decide whether legal standards have been met for the issuance of arrest warrants or whether the investigators need more evidence, the NYT reported.

In response to a CNN query about the NYT reports, the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor said it was “not providing any comment on this report.”

ICC’s Khan visited Ukraine last month to investigate Russia’s attacks on electricity and other infrastructure. Speaking to reporters during the visit, Khan said: “We clearly see a trend, I think, in terms of the number, scope and scale of attacks on Ukraine’s power grids. And we need to examine why this is happening; 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 be part of a policy and a plan and we need to get to the bottom of it and see whether or not there is criminal liability and s ‘there is that we have an International Criminal Court that has jurisdiction to look into it,’ he added.

Asked if the court process was perhaps too slow to meet Ukrainians’ expectations, the attorney general replied: “What people want are not Pyrrhic victories.”

“As a prosecutor, we are officers of justice. We are not here to be applauded by a sleight of hand. Every time we move, (people) have to trust that it’s not a political process,” he continued.

Earlier this month, CNN reported on 15-year-old Arina Yatsiuk, one of 345 Ukrainian children who have gone missing since Russia’s February 2022 invasion, according to official Ukrainian statistics.

The Ukrainian government claims that many missing children were forcibly taken to Russia. The Russian government does not deny taking Ukrainian children and has made their adoption by Russian families a centerpiece of propaganda.

A senior Ukrainian official told CNN on Monday that he has been pushing the ICC for some time to seek arrest warrants for Russian individuals in connection with the war in Ukraine.

“Ukraine has pushed for Russian officials implicated in war crimes to be prosecuted by the ICC, up to and including (Russian President Vladimir) Putin who is ultimately responsible,” the official said.


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