Sunday, June 2, 2024

Putin ICC warrant fails to halt Russian attacks


Following the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, widespread Russian attacks have continued in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Air Force reported that Ukraine was attacked by 16 Russian drones on Friday night, with 11 out of 16 drones being shot down in the central, western, and eastern regions. Among the areas targeted were the capital, Kyiv, and the western Lviv province. The attacks were carried out from the eastern coast of the Sea of Azov and Russia’s Bryansk province, which borders Ukraine. The Ukrainian military added that Russian forces launched 34 air attacks, one missile strike, and 57 rounds of anti-aircraft fire over the last 24 hours. Falling debris hit the southern Kherson province, damaging seven houses and a kindergarten. One person was killed and three wounded when 11 towns and villages in the Donetsk province were shelled on Friday. Russian rockets hit a residential area overnight on Friday in the city of Zaporizhzhia, the regional capital of the partially occupied province of the same name.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Putin for war crimes, accusing him of personal responsibility for the abductions of children from Ukraine, together with Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova. It is the first time the global court has issued a warrant against a leader of one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. The move was immediately dismissed by Moscow and welcomed by Ukraine as a major breakthrough. Its practical implications, however, could be limited as the chances of Putin facing trial at the ICC are highly unlikely because Moscow does not recognise the court’s jurisdiction or extradite its nationals.

United Kingdom military officials said on Saturday that Russia is likely to widen conscription. In its latest intelligence update, the UK Defence Ministry said that deputies in the Russian Duma introduced a bill on Monday to change the conscription age for men to 21 to 30, from the current 18 to 27. The ministry said that many men aged 18 to 21 claim exemption from military service because they are in higher education. The change would mean that they would eventually still have to serve. It said the law will likely be passed and come into force in January 2024.

The attacks on Ukraine come amid heightened tensions between Russia and Ukraine over the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and has been supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine since then. The conflict has claimed more than 13,000 lives so far.

The situation in Ukraine has also been complicated by Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, which aims to transport natural gas from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea. The pipeline has been criticised by Ukraine and other European countries, who see it as a way for Russia to bypass Ukraine and increase its influence over Europe’s energy supply.

The US and several European countries have imposed sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine and other issues, including alleged interference in US elections. The Biden administration has also warned Germany against completing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, saying it would be a “bad deal” for Europe.

The situation in Ukraine remains tense, with no end in sight to the conflict in eastern Ukraine or the wider geopolitical tensions between Russia and Western countries. The ICC’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Putin is unlikely to lead to his prosecution, but it does send a strong message that war crimes will not go unpunished. As long as the conflict continues, however, civilians in Ukraine will continue to suffer the consequences of the ongoing violence.

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