The International Criminal Court (ICC) is planning to seek the arrest of Russian officials for forcibly deporting children from Ukraine and targeting civilian infrastructure, a source said on Monday, in what would be the first of international war crimes cases resulting from Moscow’s invasion.
The source said the arrest warrants may include the crime of genocide and are expected to arrive in the “short term” if approved by a pre-trial judge at the Hague-based court.
Russia would be certain to reject any arrest warrants against any of its officials. But an international war crimes prosecution could intensify Moscow’s diplomatic isolation and make it more difficult for the accused to travel abroad for fear of arrest.
Russia denies deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, but it has not concealed a program under which it has brought thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia conducting it under the guise of a humanitarian campaign of protecting orphans and children abandoned within the conflict zone.
Kyiv says thousands of deported Ukrainian children are being adopted into Russian families, housed in Russian camps and orphanages, given Russian passports, and are being brought up to reject Ukrainian nationality and consider themselves Russians.
The U.N. genocide convention defines “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group” as one of five acts that can be prosecuted as genocide. Asked if the ICC charges against the Russian officials could include genocide, the source said: “It looks that way”.
Kyiv has conducted several war crimes prosecutions against Russian soldiers for individual incidents of the type that include killings or rapes in occupied territory. The charges discussed by the ICC prosecutors could go even further, targeting the officials responsible for these policies and not just the perpetrators of acts on the ground.