Mar 2, 2022 - World

International Criminal Court opens Ukraine war crimes investigation

Destruction in Kharkiv

Photo: Sergey Bobok/AFP via Getty Images

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said Wednesday he will immediately launch an investigation into allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide committed in Ukraine.

Why it matters: Ukraine has accused Russian forces of indiscriminately shelling civilian areas and exploiting the definition of "genocide" as a pretense to invade.

  • The launch of the inquiry could pave the way for participants in the conflict to potentially be tried at The Hague.
  • ICC prosecutor Karim Khan was able to expedite the launch of the inquiry following referrals from 39 countries.

The big picture: The timeline covered by the inquiry will stretch back to Nov. 21, 2013 — the first day of the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine that ultimately led to the overthrow of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, and later Russia's interventions in Crimea and Donbas.

What they're saying: "[I]n its preliminary examination of the Situation in Ukraine, my Office had already found a reasonable basis to believe crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court had been committed, and had identified potential cases that would be admissible," Khan said in a statement.

  • "With an active investigation now underway, I repeat my call to all those engaged in hostilities in Ukraine to adhere strictly to the applicable rules of international humanitarian law."
Go deeper