The International Criminal Court will open two cases against Russian officials for war crimes in Ukraine

Forensic technicians exhume the bodies of civilians who were killed during the Russian invasion and buried in a mass grave in the town of Bucha, on the outskirts of Kiev (REUTERS / Valentyn Ogirenko)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) plans to request the arrest of Russian officials for forcibly deporting children from Ukraine and attacking civilian infrastructureaccording to what was confirmed this Monday by the news agencies AP y Reutersin what would be the first cases of international war crimes derived from the invasion of the troops of Vladimir Putin to the neighboring country.

The source said that the arrest warrants could include the crime of genocideand that they were expected to arrive in the “short term” if the request of the attorney general, Karim Khanwas approved by an investigating judge from the court based in The Hague.

Moscow would certainly reject any arrest warrant against any of its officials. But an international trial for war crimes could aggravate Moscow’s diplomatic isolation and make it more difficult for defendants to travel abroad.

Russia denies deliberately attacking civilian infrastructure in Ukraine and says its attacks are intended to reduce kyiv’s fighting capacity. He has made no secret of a program under which he has brought thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia, but presents it as a humanitarian campaign to protect orphans and abandoned children in the conflict zone.

kyiv claims that thousands of deported Ukrainian children are adopted by Russian families, placed in Russian camps and orphanages, given Russian passports and educated to reject Ukrainian nationality and consider themselves Russians.

Weeks ago the ICC attorney general, Karim Khan, visited Ukraine again (REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko)

The UN convention on genocide defines the “forcible transfer of children from one group to another group” as one of five acts that can be prosecuted as genocide. Asked if the ICC charges against the Russian officials could include genocide, the source replied: “It seems so.”

The Hague-based ICC launched an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine just days after the Russian invasion on February 24, 2022.

Prosecutor Khan said earlier this month, following a visit to Ukraine, that the alleged child abductions “are being investigated by my office on a priority basis.”

Neither Russia nor Ukraine are members of the ICC, but the kyiv government accepted the court’s jurisdiction and is cooperating with Khan’s office.

La Ong Human Rights Watch (HRW), specialized in monitoring the international humanitarian situation, warned of the “devastatingconsequences from war in Ukraine for the children populationespecially for children who were interned in Ukrainian state institutions in areas that have ended up being taken over by Russia during the invasion, with the consequent forced deportation of minors to Russian territory.

According to Ukrainian government figures collected by the NGO, just before the Russian invasion there were approximately 105,000 children in Ukrainian residential institutions, almost half of them disabled, according to the UN. After the invasion, a hundred of these institutions, which housed approximately 32,000 minorsended up under full or partial Russian control.

In summary, “Ukrainian activists and lawyers indicate that at least several thousand of those children have ended up deported by force to Russia or other territories it occupies”.

On the ground, both sides described unrelenting fighting in and around Bakhmut, a small, ruined town in eastern Ukraine that has become the main focus of a Russian winter campaign.

Near Kreminna, north of Bakhmut, Ukrainian soldiers said they were repelling intensified attacks by increasingly professional soldiers, while the Russians brought heavy equipment closer to the front line.

Putin is charged with war crimes in Ukraine (Sputnik/Ilya Pitalyov/Pool via REUTERS)

As fighting intensified in eastern Ukraine, Moscow appeared on the brink of a long-sought diplomatic breakthrough: multiple sources told the agency Reuters that the president of China Xi Jinpingcould visit Russia next week, an earlier-than-expected response to an old invitation.

Putin has touted this visit as a show of support, but it could be overshadowed by Xi’s plans to speak by video link with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for the first time since the invasion.

The plans for the talks between Zelensky and Xi were reported by The Wall Street Journal y Reuters he could not immediately confirm them.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Kremlin said it has nothing to announce yet. The Ukrainian president’s office also did not immediately respond.

“As a rule, announcements of official visits abroad are coordinated synchronously by mutual agreement of the parties,” the Kremlin spokesman told reporters. Dmitry Peskov. “When there is such a provision, we will let you know.”

(With information from Reuters and AFP)

Keep reading:

The head of the Wagner Group acknowledged that the situation in Bakhmut is “very difficult” for the pro-Russian invaders
Human Rights Watch denounced the forced deportation to Russia of children from conquered areas of Ukraine
Zelensky assured that more than 1,100 Russian soldiers were killed during last week’s fighting in Bakhmut.

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