According to sources, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is likely to seek its initial arrest warrants against Russian officials regarding the conflict in Ukraine in the near future. The statement was made on Monday.
An anonymous source has revealed that the ICC prosecutor intends to request approval from a pre-trial judge to issue warrants against a group of Russians for their involvement in abducting children from Ukraine to Russia and damaging civilian infrastructure in Ukraine
The source stated that it is uncertain which specific Russians the ICC prosecutor will target with warrants, and the timing of such warrants is also unknown. Nevertheless, the warrants could entail the allegation of genocide, according to the source.
The office of the prosecutor at the ICC declined to comment. Russia’s Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
ICC prosecutor Karim Khan opened an investigation into possible war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Ukraine a year ago. He highlighted during four trips to Ukraine that he was looking at alleged crimes against children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure.
A United States-backed report by Yale University researchers in February said Russia has held at least 6,000 Ukrainian children at sites in Russian-held Crimea.
It identified at least 43 camps and other facilities where Ukrainian children have been held as part of a “large-scale systematic network” operated by Moscow since its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine’s former prosecutor-general Iryna Venediktova last June stated that she hoped the ICC would prosecute the child abductions as genocide.
Current prosecutor-general Andriy Kostin says that among 71,000 reports of war crimes under investigation by his office are air strikes against thousands of civilian targets.
Russia has strongly denied that its forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine. It says it does not deliberately target civilians and has said that it is offering humanitarian aid to those wishing to flee Ukraine voluntarily.
The United Nations Genocide Convention defines “forcibly transferring children of (one) group to another group” as one of five acts that can be prosecuted as genocide.
Genocide is considered one of the toughest crimes to prove because it requires evidence of specific intent.