Russia scoffs but Putin could stand trial for alleged war crimes, ICC chief prosecutor says
By Caitlin Hu, CNN
Updated 9:03 PM EDT, Fri March 17, 2023
ICC chief prosecutor reacts to Putin arrest warrant
The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor believes Russian President Vladimir Putin could stand trial for alleged crimes committed during Russia’s war in Ukraine, he told CNN on Friday, despite Moscow’s arguments that it is not subject to the court’s decisions.
In an interview with CNN’s Clarissa Ward, Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan pointed to historic trials of Nazi war criminals, former Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milošević, and former Liberian leader Charles Taylor, among others.
“All of them were mighty, powerful individuals and yet they found themselves in courtrooms,” he said.
People from the collective ‘Kyivska Kolyada’ ride in the train after singing Christmas carols and collect money for the Ukrainian army at a metro station in Kyiv, Ukraine, 25 December 2022. 2022 is the first year Orthodox churches were allowed to hold a Christmas prayer service on 24 December. Traditionally, the Orthodox church celebrates Christmas on 6 January. [EPA-EFE/OLEG PETRASYUK]
Russian forces bombarded scores of towns in Ukraine on Christmas Day as Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was open to negotiations, a stance Washington has dismissed as posturing because of continued Russian attacks.
Russia on Sunday launched more than 10 rocket attacks on the Kupiansk district in the Kharkiv region, shelled more than 25 towns along the Kupiansk-Lyman frontline, and in Zaporizhzhia hit nearly 20 towns, said Ukraine’s top military command.
Russia’s defence ministry said on Sunday that it had killed about 60 Ukrainian servicemen the previous day along the Kupiansk-Lyman line of contact and destroyed numerous pieces of Ukrainian military equipment.
Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports.
Putin’s 24 February invasion of Ukraine – which Moscow calls a “special military operation” – has triggered the biggest European conflict since World War Two and confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
Despite Putin’s latest offer to negotiate, there is no end in sight to the 10-month conflict.
“We are ready to negotiate with everyone involved about acceptable solutions, but that is up to them – we are not the ones refusing to negotiate, they are,” Putin told Rossiya 1 state television in an interview broadcast on Sunday.
An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Putin needed to return to reality and acknowledge it was Russia that did not want talks.
“Russia single-handedly attacked Ukraine and is killing citizens,” the adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, tweeted. “Russia doesn’t want negotiations, but tries to avoid responsibility.”
Russian attacks on power stations have left millions without electricity, and Zelenskyy said Moscow would aim to make the last few days of 2022 dark and difficult.
“Russia has lost everything it could this year. … I know darkness will not prevent us from leading the occupiers to new defeats. But we have to be ready for any scenario,” he said in an evening video address on Christmas Day.
Ukraine has traditionally not celebrated Christmas on 25 December, but 7 January, the same as Russia. However, this year some Orthodox Ukrainians decided to celebrate the holiday on 25 December and Ukrainian officials, starting with Zelenskyy and Ukraine’s prime minister, issued Christmas wishes on Sunday.
The Kremlin says it will fight until all its territorial aims are achieved, while Kyiv says it will not rest until every Russian soldier is ejected from the country.
Asked if the geopolitical conflict with the West was approaching a dangerous level, Putin on Sunday said: “I don’t think it’s so dangerous.”
Kyiv and the West say Putin has no justification for what they cast as an imperial-style war of occupation.
Blasts at Engels airbase
Blasts were heard at Russia’s Engels air base, hundreds of kilometres (miles) from the Ukraine frontlines, Ukrainian and Russian media reported on Monday.
Russia’s governor of Saratov region, home to the Engels air-base, said law enforcement agencies were checking information about “an incident at a military facility”.
“There were no emergencies in residential areas of the (Engels) city,” Roman Busargin, the governor of the region, said on the Telegram messaging app. “Civil infrastructure facilities were not damaged.”
The air base, near the city of Saratov, about 730 km (450 miles) southeast of Moscow, was hit on 5 December in what Russia said were Ukrainian drone attacks on two Russian air bases that day. The strikes dealt Moscow a major reputational blow and raised questions about why its defences failed, analysts said.
Ukraine has never publicly claimed responsibility for attacks inside Russia, but has said, however, that such incidents are “karma” for Russia’s invasion.
epa10363106 Pro-government supporters, including families of killed Iranian soldiers, protest against the UN and western countries in front of the United Nation office in Tehran, Iran, 13 December 2022. EPA-EFE/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH
2022 has been a year where high-profile international cases of violence against women, such as in Iran, Ukraine, and Afghanistan, have made headlines, but this is just part of a trend that permeates every aspect of society, according to United Nations (UN) officials interviewed by EURACTIV.
UN Women Brussels Director Dagmar Schumacher and the UN’s Director in Brussels Camilla Bruckner sat down with EURACTIV to discuss progress in Europe and the situation for women outside of the Union following the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, at a Security Council meeting in New York in 2018.Xinhua/ShutterstockCNN —
Russia is using rape and sexual violence as part of its “military strategy” in Ukraine, a UN envoy said this week.
The claim follows data released by a panel of UN experts recently that verified “more than a hundred cases” of rape or sexual assault incidents reported in Ukraine since February.
“When you hear women testify about Russian soldiers equipped with Viagra, it’s clearly a military strategy,” Pramila Patten, UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said in an interview with AFP on Thursday.
GENEVA (AP) — The head of the U.N. refugee agency says “Europe should be much more worried” that more people from Africa’s Sahel region could seek to move north to escape violence, climate crises like droughts and floods and the impact of growing food shortages caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, called for more efforts to build peace in the world as conflicts and crises like those in Ukraine, Venezuela, Myanmar, Syria and beyond have driven over 100 million people to leave their homes — both within their own countries and abroad.
UNHCR, the U.N.’s refugee agency, on Thursday issued its latest “Global Trends” report, which found over 89 million people had been displaced by conflict, climate change, violence and human rights abuses by 2021. The figure has since swelled after at least 12 million people fled their homes in Ukraine to other parts of the country or abroad following Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.
This year, the world is also facing growing food insecurity — Ukraine is a key European breadbasket and the war has greatly hurt grain exports
The African Union, whose continent relies on imports of wheat and other food from Ukraine, has appealed for help to access grain that is blocked in Ukrainian silos and unable to leave Ukrainian ports amid a Russian naval blockade in the Black Sea.
By Robbie Gramer, a diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy, and Amy Mackinnon, a national security and intelligence reporter at Foreign Policy.
JUNE 10, 2022, 3:48 PM
As Russia continues its assault on Ukraine, top Biden administration officials are working behind the scenes with the Ukrainian government and European allies to document a tsunami of war crimes allegedly committed by Russian forces.
But the sheer volume of the documented war crime cases could be too overwhelming for Ukraine’s justice system as well as for the International Criminal Court (ICC), raising questions of how many cases will be brought to trial and how many accused Russian war criminals could ultimately face justice.
Karina Yershova, right, is pictured with her grandmother in an undated photograph provided by the family.
Lviv, Ukraine (CNN)When Russian troops invaded Ukraine and began closing in on its capital, Kyiv, Andrii Dereko begged his 22-year-old stepdaughter Karina Yershova to leave the suburb where she lived.
But Yershova insisted she wanted to remain in Bucha, telling him: “Don’t talk nonsense, everything will be fine — there will be no war,” he said.
With her tattoos and long brown hair, Yershova stood out in a crowd, her stepfather said, adding that despite living with rheumatoid arthritis, she had a fiercely independent spirit: “She herself decided how to live.”
Yershova worked at a sushi restaurant in Bucha, and hoped to earn her university degree in the future, Dereko said: “She wanted to develop herself.”
Unclaimed and unidentified: Bucha empties its mass graves 03:24
As Russian soldiers surrounded Bucha in early March, Yershova hid in an apartment with two other friends. On one of the last occasions Dereko and his wife, Olena, heard from Yershova, she told them she had left the apartment to get food from a nearby supermarket.
Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Culture Piotr Glinski, 13 October 2021. [EPA-EFE/Jonas Ekströmer]
Poland has shown immense support for Ukraine since the Russian invasion started. What is less known is that the two countries share a history of oppression and bloodshed, but according to Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Gliński, the war has given them a chance to achieve full reconciliation.
As Russian artillery and rockets land on Ukrainian hospitals and apartment blocks, devastating residential districts with no military value, the world is watching with horror what is, for Russia, an increasingly standard practice.
Its forces conducted similar attacks in Syria, bombing hospitals and other civilian structures as part of Russia’s intervention to prop up that country’s government.
Moscow went even further in Chechnya, a border region that had sought independence in the Soviet Union’s 1991 breakup. During two formative wars there, Russia’s artillery and air forces turned city blocks to rubble and its ground troops massacred civilians in what was widely seen as a deliberate campaign to terrorize the population into submission.
Now, Vladimir V. Putin, whose rise to Russia’s presidency paralleled and was in some ways cemented by the Chechen wars, appears to be deploying a similar playbook in Ukraine, albeit so far only by increments.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has already driven millions of people from their homes and left many without water, power and food. As hostilities continue, the humanitarian and economic consequences will expand far beyond the region, putting potentially millions of people around the world at risk of hunger.
And these aren’t just short-term threats. The decisions that farmers and policymakers make over the next few weeks and months will have long-term consequences for the future of the world’s food systems. The right responses can keep the world on track for a sustainable food future. The wrong ones will worsen food insecurity and fuel climate change.
Since launching his unprovoked and unjust war of choice, Russian President Vladimir Putin has unleashed unrelenting violence that has caused death and destruction across Ukraine. We’ve seen numerous credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities. Russia’s forces have destroyed apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping centers, and ambulances, leaving thousands of innocent civilians killed or wounded. Many of the sites Russia’s forces have hit have been clearly identifiable as in-use by civilians. This includes the Mariupol maternity hospital, as the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressly noted in a March 11 report. It also includes a strike that hit a Mariupol theater, clearly marked with the word “дети” — Russian for “children” — in huge letters visible from the sky. Putin’s forces used these same tactics in Grozny, Chechnya, and Aleppo, Syria, where they intensified their bombardment of cities to break the will of the people. Their attempt to do so in Ukraine has again shocked the world and, as President Zelenskyy has soberly attested, “bathed the people of Ukraine in blood and tears.”
Every day that Russia’s forces continue their brutal attacks, the number of innocent civilians killed and wounded, including women and children, climbs. As of March 22, officials in besieged Mariupol said that more than 2,400 civilians had been killed in that city alone. Not including the Mariupol devastation, the United Nations has officially confirmed more than 2,500 civilian casualties, including dead and wounded, and emphasizes the actual toll is likely higher.
Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine. The two tall smokestacks are at a coal-fired generating station about 3km beyond the nuclear plant. Photo credit: Ralf1969 via Wikimedia Commons.
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine began to unfold, Russia’s swift occupation of the Chernobyl reactor complex and the surrounding exclusion zone sparked widespread speculation and concern. The concern was not limited to whether the occupation would cause further radioactive release from Chernobyl; it also included possible Russian military action against other Ukrainian nuclear facilities. These fears were further accelerated when Russian forces shelled and apparently occupied the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power complex near Enerhodar, Ukraine. There have also been reports of attacks on a former Radon disposal site near Kyiv.
World leaders have expressed concerns, and the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the issue. At the meeting, the US ambassador told the emergency session that the assault on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant “represents a dire threat to the world.”  The IAEA’s Board of Governors passed a resolution that deplored the Russian invasion and urged Russia to allow Ukraine to continue to control its nuclear facilities. The board’s resolution was similar to a UN General Assembly resolution passed on March 3rd. Despite the high levels of concern the reactors at Zaporizhzhia do not appear to have been damaged and there has been no reported radiation release from the facility.
The United Nations has voted overwhelmingly for a resolution deploring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called for the immediate withdrawal of its forces, in a global expression of outrage that highlighted Russia’s increasing isolation.
In an emergency session of the UN’s general assembly, 141 of the 193 member states voted for the resolution, 35 abstained, and five voted against. The only countries to vote no in support of Moscow were Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea and Syria. Longstanding allies Cuba and Nicaragua joined China in abstaining.
The resolution said the UN “deplores in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine”. It demanded that “the Russian Federation immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine” and “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces”.
The resolution is not legally binding, but is an expression of the views of the UN membership, aimed at increasing pressure on Moscow and its ally, Belarus.
“It isn’t going to stop Russian forces in their stride, but it’s a pretty enormous diplomatic win for the Ukrainians and the US, and everyone who has got behind them,” Richard Gowan, UN director at the International Crisis Group, said.
Speaking before the vote, the US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, compared the Russian invasion to the Nazi conquest of Europe.
“A few of the eldest Ukrainians and Russians might recall a moment like this, a moment when one aggressive European nation invaded another without provocation to claim the territory of its neighbour, a moment when a European dictator declared he would return his empire to its former glory and invasion that caused a war so horrific, that it spurred this organization into existence,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
UN to investigate potential war crimes after dozens, including children, die in rebel-held town of Idlib province.
WARNING: The above report contains images some may find distressing.
A suspected chemical attack on a rebel-held town in Syria’s Idlib province has drawn widespread international condemnation, with the United Nations saying it will investigate the bombing raid as a possible war crime.