| 18 June 2024, Tuesday |

ICC expected to launch war crimes cases against Russians over Ukraine

In what would be the first international war crimes prosecutions resulting from Moscow’s invasion, the International Criminal Court is anticipated to seek the arrest of Russian officials for forcibly removing children from Ukraine and attacking civilian infrastructure, a source said on Monday.

The arrest warrants, according to the source, might include charges of genocide and were anticipated to arrive in the “near term” if the Hague-based court’s pre-trial judge granted the court prosecutor’s request. Which Russian authorities the prosecutor might ask for warrants against was unclear.

The office of the prosecutor at the ICC declined to comment.

Russia’s defense ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Moscow would be certain to reject any arrest warrants against any of its officials. But an international war crimes prosecution could deepen Moscow’s diplomatic isolation and make it difficult for those accused to travel abroad.

Konstantin Kosachyov, deputy speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, said the ICC had no jurisdiction over the country since Moscow withdrew its backing in 2016. “The ICC is an instrument of neo-colonialism in the hands of the West,” he said.

Russia denies deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, saying its attacks are all intended to reduce Kyiv’s ability to fight. It has not concealed a programme under which it has brought thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia, but presents it as a humanitarian campaign to protect orphans and children abandoned in the conflict zone.

Kyiv says thousands of deported Ukrainian children are being adopted into Russian families, housed in Russian camps and orphanages, given Russian passports and brought up to reject Ukrainian nationality.

The U.N. genocide convention defines “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group” as one of five acts that can be prosecuted as genocide. Asked if the ICC charges against the Russian officials could include genocide, the source said: “It looks that way.”

  • Reuters