For Vladimir Putin, all roads lead to The Hague



The signage has changed on the Ukrainian highways, where the columns of Russian tanks circulate. For the attention of the invader, the directions of the signs have been crossed out in black ink, to be replaced by “Гaara”, The Hague in Russian, seat of the International Criminal Court (ICC). This is perhaps the path that the Kremlin and its army could take one day, according to the various procedures launched in this direction. On Monday February 28, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, the Briton Karim Khan, announced the opening of an investigation into possible war crimes. The procedure was already launched for the alleged crimes before the invasion of Ukraine. “Given the expansion of the conflict in recent days, I intend that this investigation also encompass any new alleged crimes within the jurisdiction of my office, committed by any party to the conflict in any part of the territory. from Ukraine. »

Neither Ukraine nor Russia are among the 123 members of the ICC, a UN judicial body created in 1998. Moscow has signed its membership without ever ratifying it. Kiev, on the other hand, recognizes the jurisdiction of the Court, which allows the ICC to launch the investigation. “Our work of collecting evidence has begun”,confirmed Karim Khan on Wednesday March 3. On Monday February 28, the UN reported 102 civilians killed, including 7 children, and 304 injured, mainly by “wide range explosive weapons”, while warning that the actual numbers were were “considerably” higher.

Ukraine’s Chief Prosecutor, Iryna Venediktova, is counting on the ICC’s ability to hold individuals accountable for war crimes. “Every missile fired by Putin’s generals at Kyiv, Kharkiv, Akhtyrka, Vasylkiv, Chernihiv, Kherson, Mariupol, Mykolaiv, Sumy is your condemnation. You know your crimes, we know your crimes, the entire civilized world knows your crimes! », she said.

Ukraine has few legal weapons to hold Russia accountable for the war as such. There is indeed a “crime of aggression”, but its definition remains vague and uncertain, in the face of an enemy who himself accuses the Ukrainian government of genocide. This situation prompted Kiev to find a new angle of attack, in a request sent to The Hague. “Russia must be held responsible for manipulating the notion of genocide to justify aggression. We demand an urgent decision ordering Russia to immediately cease all military activity,” tweeted President Zelensky, who expects a decision as early as next week.

The ICC has appealed for support from its member states to fund its investigation. “The importance and urgency of our mission are too serious to be held hostage by the lack of means”, justified Karim Khan. She shouldn’t have any trouble finding help. Lithuania is already responding. Vilnius announced Monday, February 28 to request an investigation into the alleged abuses in Ukraine, which will have the effect of accelerating the process. White spray paint in hand, the Mayor of Vilnius, Remigijus Simasius, sprayed the following message on the pavement, opposite the Russian Embassy: “Putin, The Hague is waiting for you. » The same as on Ukrainian roads.

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