The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court [ICC], Fatou Bensouda, has found reasonable grounds for believing that war crimes and crimes against humanity, falling within ICC jurisdiction, ‘have been committed in the context of the situation in Ukraine.’
Such crimes, in connection with the conflict in Donbas and with Russia’s ongoing occupation of Crimea, are sufficiently grave, she writes, to warrant investigation by the ICC.
This is a long-awaited and very important move, one that human rights groups have helped to achieve by providing the Office of the Prosecutor with detailed information about enforced disappearances, torture and extrajudicial killings, Russia’s persecution of Crimean Tatars and other Ukrainians in occupied Crimea, its conscription and militarization, and multiple other violations of international law.
They have also presented witness testimony and evidence of civilian targets in Donbas having been shelled from Russian territory; of civilians being used as human shields in occupied Crimea (and Donbas), and much more. There is also, of course, ample proof that civilian airliner MH17 was downed by a Russian Buk missile which had been brought from a military unit in Kursk (Russia) and was hurriedly returned to Russia after the disaster that killed 298 people, including 80 children.
The most important part of this decision to begin proceedings is, however, that it significantly raises the chances that Moscow and those in Russia implicated in war crimes and crimes against humanity can be held to account.
Russia has expended huge effort and expense on trying to prove that international courts, like the UN’s International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, do not have jurisdiction to examine the cases brought by Ukraine. It has failed to convince these international bodies and is now mainly dragging out cases which it can hopefully not win.
There certainly are reasons why Putin and those implicated with him in undeclared warfare and crimes committed in occupied Crimea and Donbas should be feeling worried.”