International Criminal Court launches investigation of war crimes in Ukraine
  • The International Criminal Court has begun investigating alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
  • As of Wednesday, 39 nations had requested such an investigation.
  • “Our work in the collection of evidence has now commenced,” the ICC’s top prosecutor said.

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The International Criminal Court announced Wednesday that it is launching an investigation into potential war crimes in Ukraine.

Karim A.A. Khan, the ICC’s top prosecutor, first announced his intent to open an investigation on February 28, just days after Russia launched its invasion.

In a statement, he said his office had since received referrals for such an investigation from 39 nations that are a part of the ICC, including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

“I have notified the ICC Presidency a few moments ago of my decision to immediately proceed with active investigations,” Khan said. “Our work in the collection of evidence has now commenced.”

Khan said the investigation would consider offenses committed since November 2013, “thereby encompassing within its scope any past and present allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide on any part of the territory of Ukraine by any person.”

Amnesty International has described Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a “crime of aggression” under international law, saying it had already resulted in “indiscriminate strikes on residential areas, medical institutions, social infrastructure and other civilian objects.”

US lawmakers urged investigation

The United States is not a member of the ICC, nor are Russia or Ukraine. Nevertheless, lawmakers such as US Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from North Carolina, had urged the court to investigate Russia’s actions, introducing a Senate resolution to that effect this week.

Speaking to Insider earlier on Wednesday, Graham — who in 2015 threatened to cut off aid to Palestinians if they filed a claim against Israel at the ICC — said the international body made sense for prosecuting any offenses in Ukraine.

“This court doesn’t make sense when it comes to America or Israel,” he said Wednesday. “It makes perfect sense when it comes to places where there is no rule of law.”

Former US President Bill Clinton in 2000 signed the treaty creating the ICC but it was never ratified by the Senate. His successor, George W. Bush, formally withdrew from the agreement.

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