March 13, 2023 – Russia-Ukraine news

3:37 pm ET, March 13, 2023

International Criminal Court to open war crimes case against Russia over Ukraine invasion, media report

From CNN’s Zahid Mahmood and Sugam Pokharel in London

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan and Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin speak to reporters Feb. 28 as they visit the site of a residential building damaged by a Russian missile strike in late November in Vyshhorod, outside Kyiv, Ukraine.

(Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters/FILE)

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

According to the NYT, the cases represent the first international charges brought against Russia since the start of the war and come months after special ICC investigative panels.

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

ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan’s first step is to present his charges to a panel of pre-trial judges, who will decide whether he meets the legal standards for issuing arrest warrants or whether investigators need more evidence, the NYT reported.

In response to CNN’s request regarding the NYT’s report, the ICC’s Prosecutor’s Office said they had “no comment on this report.”

The ICC president visited Ukraine last month to examine Russia’s attacks on electricity and other infrastructure.

Khan told reporters during the trip, “In terms of the number, scale and breadth of attacks against Ukraine’s power grids, we clearly see a pattern. We need to look at why it’s happening; whether they’re legitimate targets or not; whether they’re being targeted for other reasons.”

“There seems to be a lot of damage in Ukraine, it could be part of a policy and part of a plan, and we need to get to the bottom of it and see if there is criminal responsibility or not. Do we have an international criminal court that has the power to investigate,” he added.

Asked if the court’s process was too slow to meet Ukrainians’ expectations, the top lawyer said: “What people want is not pyrrhic victories.”

“As a lawyer we are officers of the court. We are not here to get applause by a manipulative ploy. Whenever we move, (people) have to trust that it is not a political process,” he continued.

More background: Earlier this month, CNN reported On 15-year-old Aryna Yatsyuk, one of 345 Ukrainian children who have disappeared since Russia’s February 2022 occupation, according to Ukrainian statistics.

The Ukrainian government has reported that many of the missing children have been forcibly taken to Russia. The Russian government has not denied taking Ukrainian children, and has made their adoption by Russian families a focus of propaganda.

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

“Ukraine is pushing for the ICC to prosecute Russian officials for war crimes, including (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, who are ultimately responsible,” the official said.

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