As Russian forces escalate their assault on Ukraine,the prospect that
their commander in chief, Vladimir Putin will ever stand trial for the
crimes he committed may seem far-fetched. But for some international
legal scholars it is all but certain that Putin will one day be
indicted for war crimes or crimes against humanity in Ukraine,charges
that would turn him into an international pariah,if not a prisoner.
Bloomberg March 16,2022
The ICC has launched investigations into the conflict,looking for alleged war crimes.
What are war crimes?
The definition used by the International Criminal Court in the Hague
is extensive. It includes willful killing, torture, rape, forced
prostitution, corporal punishment, hostage-taking, unlawful
deportation, using starvation as a weapon, and shooting combatants
who’ve surrendered, among many other acts. War crimes can also include:
Using banned weapons such as chemical and biological arms,
deliberately attacking civilians and non-military targets, targeting hospitals and other places where the sick and wounded are gathered,
looting and carrying out attacks that will cause severe damage to the
Essentially, it’s an attack by one country on another where there’s no
justification of self-defense, according to former ICC President Chile
Eboe-Osuji. The court defines it as the planning, preparation, and
execution by a state military or political leader “of an act of
aggression which, by its character, gravity, and scale, constitutes a
manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations.” An act of
aggression means “the use of armed force by a state against the
sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of
another State” and can include invasion, occupation, and annexation
by the use of force, as well as the blockade of ports.
CNN March 17,2022
Biden on Putin: 'I think he is a war criminal'
President Joe Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a "war
criminal" Wednesday, a rhetorical leap that came as civilian deaths
mount in Ukraine.
It was the harshest condemnation of Putin's actions from any US
official since the war in Ukraine began three weeks ago. Previously,
Biden had stopped short of labeling atrocities being documented on the
ground in Ukraine as "war crimes," citing ongoing international and US
"We saw reports that Russian forces were holding hundreds of doctors
and patients hostage in the largest hospital in Mariupol," Biden said.
"These are atrocities. They're an outrage to the world. And the world
is united in our support for Ukraine and our determination to make
Putin pay a very heavy price." It wasn't until a few hours after that
that Biden responded to a question about Putin being a war criminal.
Biden initially said "no," but immediately returned to a group of
reporters to clarify what had been asked. When asked again whether
Putin was a war criminal, he answered in the affirmative.
On Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Biden's
remarks were "absolutely unacceptable and inexcusable."
While the term "war crimes" is often used colloquially -- as Biden
appeared to be doing Wednesday -- they do have a legal definition that
could be used in potential prosecution. That includes in the Geneva
Convention, which specifies intentional targeting of civilians as a
Yet in order to prosecute a war crime, solid evidence is required. And
for Russian officials to be held accountable, they would need to
travel outside of the country. Still, an official designation of war
crimes -- backed up with evidence -- would still present the West with
a symbolic tool in framing Putin's actions in Ukraine.