Government officials from dozens of countries met Thursday in the Netherlands with the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to discuss how best to coordinate efforts to bring the perpetrators of war crimes in Ukraine to justice.
Since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, his military forces have been accused of a range of offenses ranging from assassinations in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha to deadly attacks on civilian facilities, including the March 16 bombing of a theater in Mariupol that according to investigation Associated Press likely to kill nearly 600 people.
Associated Press and FRONTLINE, which tracks incidents in Ukraine, have so far counted at least 338 incidents that could be considered war crimes.
In a statement Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Moscow to stop forced deportations on Russian-controlled territory of Ukraine, saying some 900,000 to 1.6 million Ukrainians had been “interrogated, detained and forcibly deported” to Russia.
“Moscow’s actions appear to be premeditated and similar to what Russia has done in Chechnya and other regions,” Blinken said. “President Putin’s ‘screening’ operation separating families, confiscating Ukrainian passports and issuing Russian passports is a real attempt to change the demographic makeup of parts of Ukraine.”
Blinken said Putin and his government “cannot be allowed to engage in systematic abuses without punishment. Accountability is a must. This is why we support the efforts of Ukrainian and international authorities to collect, document and secure evidence of atrocities. Together, we are dedicated to holding the perpetrators of war crimes and other atrocities accountable.”
Around 40 countries from the European Union and around the world will be represented at Thursday’s conference, organized by Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan and EU Judiciary Commissioner Didier Reynders.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to address government representatives via video message before they meet behind closed doors to discuss coordinating investigations and gathering evidence as the ICC and various countries carry out war crimes investigations. [ab/uh]