Chris Lange, FISM News
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Thursday called for an international “overarching strategy” to coordinate Ukraine war crime probes, according to an Associated Press report.
Russia has faced worldwide condemnation for committing numerous atrocities against Ukrainian civilians since the Feb. 24 invasion, including the bombing of a theater-turned-shelter in Mariupol that killed an estimated 600 Ukrainian civilians and the torture and killings of hundreds more in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.
“The simple truth is that, as we speak, children, women and men, the young and the old, are living in terror,” ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said as he opened the Ukraine Accountability Conference in The Hague. “They’re suffering in Ukraine and in so many different parts of the world. Grieving about what they lost yesterday, holding their breath about what they could lose today, and what tomorrow can bring. At a time like this, the law cannot be a spectator.”
Khan said Thursday’s ministerial meeting focused on “a need of coordination, of coherence” and “an overarching strategy” as different nations and courts work to investigate and prosecute crimes.
Grain shipment negotiation progress
Representatives from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and the United Nations met Wednesday in yet another attempt to negotiate the release of massive stores of grain from Ukraine that have been held up by Russian blockades in the Black Sea. The U.N. said the parties agreed on key aspects of a plan but added that more details need to be ironed out.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday that the meeting marked “a critical step” forward in the effort to release stores of grain from Ukraine in the face of a growing global food crisis. Ukraine and Russia are the top two grain producers in the world, and the war has led to food shortages around the world, particularly in third-world countries. Ukraine has only been able to release about a third of its grain this year due to the presence of Russian warships at its Black Sea ports.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the sides reached an agreement concerning the “joint control” of ships as they depart and arrive to pick up grain and offered safety assurances of transfer routes. Negotiators also agreed to the establishment of a coordination center in Istanbul that would include officials from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and the United Nations. Another meeting is scheduled to take place next week.
Guterres cautioned that “more technical work will now be needed” to reach an agreement, “but the momentum is clear … I’m encouraged. I’m optimistic, but it’s not yet fully done.”
Russian missile strikes kill 12 near Kyiv
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of committing “an open act of terrorism” on civilians in areas that have no military value following Russian missile strikes on the city of Vinnytsia on Thursday that killed 12 and wounded 25.
Ukrainian officials said three missiles hit an office building and damaged several residential buildings in the city located southwest of Kyiv.
Zelenskyy said a child was among the dead and accused Russia of deliberately inflicting terror on civilians.
“Every day Russia is destroying the civilian population, killing Ukrainian children, directing missiles at civilian objects. Where there is no military [targets]. What is it if not an open act of terrorism?” Zelenskyy wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
Griner due back in Russian court
American basketball star Brittney Griner is due back in a Russian court Thursday after pleading guilty to drug possession charges last week.
President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have said they were doing all they could to secure Griner’s release, along with the release of other Americans “wrongly detained” by Russia, including former Marine Paul Whelan.
Griner likely entered a guilty plea in an effort to speed up negotiations for her release; however, a senior Russian diplomat said Moscow will not take any action until the trial ends.
Concern for Griner’s fate has been mounting among her supporters amid growing animosity between Moscow and Washington.