An ICC prosecutor joins a group from three more countries to make up an international war crimes tribunal that would investigate Russia's actions in Ukraine.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has joined a team of investigators who will look into allegations of war crimes against Russia following their unprovoked attack on Ukraine in February. The notice announcing ICC's participation was made by the European Union's agency for criminal justice cooperation on Monday.
According to the Jerusalem Post, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan has joined Prosecutors General from Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine in signing an agreement to become the investigative team for the international war crimes tribunal. In March, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine signed an agreement to establish a team to facilitate the exchange of information and investigate the alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity by Russia in Ukraine.
"With this agreement, parties are sending a clear message that all efforts will be undertaken to effectively gather evidence on core international crimes committed in Ukraine and bring those responsible to justice," the Eurojust agency said in a statement.
Also in March, Khan launched an investigation into the possible war crimes committed in Ukraine after requests from an unprecedented number of the court's member states. VOA News reported that early investigations of Russia's actions in Ukraine were mostly focused on civilian deaths. This included the massacre of hundreds of Ukrainian residents in Bucha and other suburbs near the capital of Kyiv. Russia, meanwhile, denied killing Ukrainian civilians.
In Mariupol, a port city in eastern Ukraine, the death toll continues to rise after Russian forces targeted it when they failed to capture Kyiv. Ukrainian leaders are calling the atrocities war crimes, CBS News reported.
"So there are terrible atrocities, terrible war crimes on the Mariupol territory," Ukraine Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said towards the end of his trip to Washington last week, during which he met with President Joe Biden and other senior lawmakers. Ukrainian officials estimated up to 20,000 civilians dead in Mariupol alone since the Russian attack on February 24.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov argued this week that the efforts of the U.S. and its allies to deliver weapons to Ukraine means that the NATO alliance is "in essence engaged in war with Russia" and that Moscow views these weapons as legitimate targets, Al Jazeera reported. Lavrov also warned of the "serious" and "real" danger of World War III, saying, "You can't underestimate it."
Lavrov criticized the peace talks between Ukraine and Russia, arguing that "Goodwill has its limits. But if it isn't reciprocal, that doesn't help the negotiation process."
According to the BBC, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed hope that the Russian forces would lose and that he believes Ukraine could still win the war if they are provided with adequate support. Austin also announced that the U.S. is issuing an extra $713 million in military aid to Ukraine and other European nations.
The retired four-star general turned Defense Secretary and Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently went to Kyiv to meet with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky in what was the highest-level trip to Ukraine by American officials since the Russian invasion began on February 24.