Pentagon blocks transfer of evidence of Russian war crimes to ICC, NYT reports

9 March, 01:31 AM
Lloyd Austin (Photo:REUTERS/Tom Brenner)

Lloyd Austin (Photo:REUTERS/Tom Brenner)

The U.S. Department of Defense is blocking the White House from transferring evidence of apparent Russian war crimes in Ukraine to the International Criminal Court, The New York Times reported on March 8.

The report says top U.S. military officials are opposed to helping the ICC investigate Russia out of concerns about setting a precedent that could place U.S. armed forces under international legal scrutiny in the future. Other government bodies, including intelligence agencies, the State Department, and the Department of Justice, are in favor of bringing evidence to trial, sources said. It is noted that U.S. President Joe Biden “has yet to resolve the impasse."

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According to the NYT, the evidence has details relevant to the investigation that the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, launched a year ago after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The information includes materials about the decision of Russian officials to deliberately strike civilian infrastructure and kidnap thousands of Ukrainian children from occupied territories.

In December 2022, the U.S. Congress changed long-standing legal restrictions on U.S. judicial assistance, allowing the country to assist in investigations and possible prosecutions related to the war in Ukraine. But a political debate continues behind closed doors of the Biden administration, about whether this should be done in the first place.

“The National Security Council convened a cabinet-level ‘principals committee’ meeting on Feb. 3, in an attempt to resolve the dispute, the officials said, but Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin continued to object,” the article reads.

At the same time, National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said the U.S. government is supporting a series of investigations to identify and prosecute those responsible for Russia's war crimes, including through the Ukrainian prosecutor's office, the UN, and the ICC.

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