Illustrative photo – A residential building hit by a Russian missile in Kharkiv, Ukraine, February 5, 2023.
The Hague – The International Criminal Court (ICC) intends to open prosecutions in two cases for war crimes related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Citing its sources among current and former court officials, The New York Times (NYT) wrote today that the ICC will also seek arrest warrants for several individuals.
The first lawsuit concerns allegations that Russia kidnapped Ukrainian children and teenagers and sent them to re-education camps on Russian territory. Moscow makes no secret of this program, which it describes as a humanitarian mission to protect Ukrainian orphans and abandoned children from the war.
According to the second accusation, the Kremlin intentionally targets civilian infrastructure, including water sources and power plants located far from the front, in the attacks, the NYT writes. In this case, Russia, in its multiple waves of airstrikes against Ukrainian cities and infrastructure, claims to be hitting military targets despite evidence to the contrary.
The two mentioned cases would represent the first international lawsuit filed since the beginning of the conflict that Russia unleashed in Ukraine more than a year ago. According to the NYT, months of work by special investigative teams preceded the planned filing of lawsuits. ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan must first submit the charges for a preliminary review, which will determine whether the requirements for the issuance of warrants are met.
It is not yet clear who exactly the charges relate to. The ICC tries individuals for crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. Asked by the NYT for comment, the prosecutor's office said it does not comment publicly on details related to ongoing investigations.
Some diplomats and experts have said it is possible that Russian President Vladimir Putin could be among the accused. But the likelihood of a trial is slim because the court cannot hear cases in the absence of defendants and it is highly unlikely that Russia would extradite its officials.
The Kremlin has denied war crimes in Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion. However, international and Ukrainian investigators as well as non-profit organizations and the media have been gathering convincing evidence of the atrocities of the Russian army since the first days of the conflict, the NYT reminds us.