The Independent

Internatio­nal court prepares arrest warrants for Russians


Both Ukraine and Russia have reported heavy losses during fierce fighting around the eastern city of Bakhmut, while the Internatio­nal Criminal Court (ICC) is said to be planning to issue arrest warrants against a number of Russians. Bakhmut, in the Donetsk region, has seen some of the bloodiest fighting

since the invasion began, with Russia spending months trying to take the city.

Meanwhile, the prosecutor at the ICC is expected to ask pretrial judges to approve arrest warrants against Russian individual­s in relation to the abduction of children from Ukraine to Russia and the targeting of civilian infrastruc­ture in Ukraine, according to a report in The New York Times. If successful, it will be the first time ICC warrants have been issued in respect of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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 at the targeting of civilian infrastruc­ture during Moscow’s repeated missile assaults.

A recent US-backed report by researcher­s at Yale University said that Russia has detained 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.

The ICC did not comment on the university’s report. Russia has claimed that children have been taken and given to Russian families on the grounds of humanitari­an rescue. Moscow also denies deliberate­ly harming civilians in its months-long targeting of Ukraine’s energy infrastruc­ture.

Neither Russia nor Ukraine is a signatory to the ICC’s founding document, and there is little chance of Moscow handing anyone over to the court. Ukraine has asked the ICC to exercise jurisdicti­on, and dozens of ICC member states have referred the invasion to the court.

On the ground in Ukraine, Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, the Ukrainian commander of ground forces, said the “situation around Bakhmut remains difficult”. “[Wagner mercenary group] assault units are advancing from several directions, trying to break through the defences of our troops and advance to the central districts of the city,” he added.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky claimed late on Sunday that more than 1,100 members of Russian forces had been killed in the past few days around Bakhmut, while Russia’s ministry of defence claimed it had killed 220 Ukrainian soldiers in the previous 24 hours.

Mr Zelensky also handed the country’s highest honour – Hero of Ukraine – to a Ukrainian soldier who was filmed apparently being killed by Russian troops. Oleksandr Matsievski­y was unarmed when he was filmed smoking a cigarette and shouting “Glory to Ukraine” before being gunned down. He had been fighting around Bakhmut. Moscow faced fresh accusation­s of war crimes when the footage surfaced.

Moscow has claimed that taking Bakhmut would open a path to capture the rest of the surroundin­g Donetsk region, which would achieve one of the central aims of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Ukraine and the US have sought to play down the significan­ce of the city, with Kyiv saying it is trying to wipe out as many Russian units as possible ahead of a counteroff­ensive.

On the political front, Moscow has suggested it would be open to renewing a deal allowing the safe export of grain from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports – but only for a period of 60 days, half the term of the previous renewal, Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Vershinin said yesterday after talks with UN officials in Geneva.

The Black Sea grain initiative, brokered between Russia and Ukraine by the United Nations and Turkey last July, aimed to prevent a global food crisis by allowing Ukrainian grain blockaded by Russia’s invasion to be safely exported from three Ukrainian ports. The period of time covered by the deal, which was extended for 120 days in November, comes to an end on Saturday.

Elsewhere, it is believed that China’s Xi Jinping is planning a visit to Moscow, potentiall­y as soon as next week. There are also suggestion­s, however, that Mr Xi could talk with Mr Zelensky via video link. A visit by Mr Xi to Russia would be a major event

for Mr Putin, who portrays the war in Ukraine as a fight against the whole of the West. Moscow has looked to Beijing as an ally, but a call between Mr Zelensky and Mr Xi would certainly be a coup for Kyiv.

Want your views to be included in The Independen­t Daily Edition letters page? Email us by tapping here letters@independen­ Please include your address


 ?? (AFP/Getty) ?? The prosecutor at the ICC opened an investigat­ion into possible war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Ukraine a year ago
(AFP/Getty) The prosecutor at the ICC opened an investigat­ion into possible war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Ukraine a year ago

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom