Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The United States formally accuses Russia of war crimes

The United States yesterday formally declared its belief that Vladimir Putin’s troops have committed war crimes in Ukraine. The qualification, which Joe Biden had already formulated informally when describing Vladimir Putin himself as a war criminal, is part of the State Department and is based on intelligence data and public information.

The Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, indicated in the statement that the Government will continue to collect information on these war crimes and share it with its allies and other international institutions in the face of possible processes so that the authors are held accountable before the Justice.

This indicates that Washington is willing to collaborate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, even though the US is not part of the institution, having refused to ratify the corresponding treaty, the Rome Statute.

The ICC Prosecutor’s Office, supported by more than 40 states that are parties, is already investigating the facts on the ground. Attacks on the civilian population, especially in the city of Mariupol, will be the key to any indictment of Putin, his government, and his army: whether through the ICC or another qualified court.

The chief prosecutor of the Hague Court, Karim Khan, sees “a reasonable basis to believe” that “war crimes and crimes against humanity” have indeed been committed in Ukraine.

And, with that international support that he deems “unprecedented”, on March 2 he sent a team of investigators to Ukraine to collect evidence.

The CPI asks for help from “anyone who may have relevant information about the situation in Ukraine”

With unusual speed and diligence in this court, Khan launched an exclusive portal on the ICC website a week ago so that “anyone who may have relevant information about the situation in Ukraine” can contact investigators.

Khan’s office will publicize the existence of the portal through social networks and asked the 123 states that are part of the CPI, as well as the media, to help him as much as possible.

The United States formally accuses Russia of war crimes
Source: Saul Loeb/Pool via AP

If the ICC prosecutes him, Putin can be arrested in any state party to the court as soon as he sets foot there

If the ICC indicts Putin, Russia will not be required to hand him over to the court because the country is not a state party to the court either. But the Russian president can be arrested in any state that is, as soon as he sets foot there. But until he was captured and handed over, the hearing could not take place since the ICC does not conduct trials in absentia.

In his statement with the formal declaration against Putin’s troops, Blinken states that “since this unjust and unprovoked war began, the Russian president has unleashed unremitting violence causing death and destruction throughout Ukraine.”

We have seen numerous credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and deliberately targeted attacks against civilians.”

Anthony Blinken, US Secretary of State

“We have seen – the statement continues – numerous credible reports of indiscriminate and deliberately targeted attacks on civilians, among other atrocities.”

Russian forces “have destroyed residential buildings, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping malls, and ambulances, leaving thousands of innocent civilians injured and dead.”

Washington’s statement especially mentions the attacks in Mariupol, including the one against a theater marked with the word ‘children’ clearly visible from the air.

The head of US diplomacy underlines as an aggravating factor the fact that “many of the sites that Russian forces attacked had been identified as spaces that were being used by civilians.” This includes, he adds, both the Mariupol maternity hospital and the attack on a theater in the same city “which was marked with the word ‘children’, written in Russian” in gigantic letters that were visible from the air.

These are the same techniques that Putin’s forces have already used in Grozny, Chechnya, or Aleppo, where these troops “intensified the bombing of cities to break the will of the people.”

Blinken lists more than enough barbarities to accuse Putin of the worst crimes that no one can commit

The repetition of this practice in Ukraine “has once again shocked the entire world and, as President Zelensky has rightly pointed out, ‘bathed his people in blood and tears.”

More than enough to charge Putin with the worst crimes anyone can commit.


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