War Crimes

A popular term these days….daily accusations just keep rolling out.

There has been lots of yelling and accusations about the crimes committed by Russian against the Ukrainian people….even the president of the US has gone to that length…..news outlets are said to be gathering evidence to present to the ICC against Russia.

This piece was written by Lark Escobar, a graduate student at Tufts University……

Not all acts are permissible in war, and the horrors of the Russian invasion of Ukraine are more than just the normal or lawful incidents and targets (objectives) of violence in war.  War crimes are grave, criminal violations of international humanitarian law, which can be grouped into three categories: crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.  Russia appears to be committing crimes in all three categories in Ukraine.

Crimes Against Peace

Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, February 24th, 2022, thus committing a crime against peace by waging a war of aggression.  Although Russia is promulgating a narrative that it “had no other choice” and was forced to invade to “de-Nazi-fy” Ukraine and liberate it from “neo-Nazis” committing alleged human rights violations, there is no evidence to support these assertions.  There are no media reports, NGO reports (like Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch), or United Nation reports to indicate that there was any such crisis in Ukraine or any legitimate basis for the Russian invasion. 

War Crimes

The Russian forces appear to be committing further violations by their method of targeting.  It is unlawful in war to target civilians, civilian infrastructure such as schools and hospitals, forcibly transfer or deport civilians, plunder public and private property, or engage in unnecessary destruction of cities, towns, or villages.  There are a number of provisions that protect civilians including the principles of proportionality, necessity, and warning – in other words a military cannot target civilian infrastructure unless there’s a clear military necessity and when they do they should warn civilians so the area is cleared and loss of civilian life is mitigated.  

Another war crime is that of perfidy, or pretending to be someone with protected status (chaplains, medics) in order to stage a surprise attack.  It is possible that Russian forces, specifically the Chechnyan fighters, have committed this crime in Kyiv on February 27th, 2022. It is also a war crime to torture civilians, treat them poorly, or enslave them. 

Crimes Against Humanity

Some of the most widely reported allegations of Russian crimes against humanity in Ukraine is those of rape and murder. Reports of gender-based violence including molestation and rape of victims including women and girls.  Another suspected crime against humanity violation is that of forced deportation of Ukrainian civilians. Summary execution without due process and trials for civilians (essentially murder) is also a crime against humanity and has been alleged to have occurred in the town of Bucha  just outside of the capital and also in Chernihiv and Kharkiv. 

An Uncooperative Russia

These allegations are not exhaustive of all the reports of Russian atrocities, and other inhumane acts may be considered crimes against humanity, as well. In all cases, these crimes are challenging to prosecute – even when the individuals carrying out these crimes are being ordered to do so by their superiors.  The International Criminal Court, or ICC, announced it began an investigation into these potential war crimes on March 2, 2022, but thus far Russia remains uncooperative and has not made clear efforts to mitigate these violations.  

Media outlets claim that they are compiling evidence to present to the court….yet their reports carry the caveat that “this report has yet been verified”…..that makes it ‘hearsay’ and no court I know will go to trial on hearsay only.

If these outlets have real evidence then I say why is it not reported….after all that is their job supposedly.

If the accusations are true then I say prosecute to the full extent of the law.

War is an obscenity to begin with and the committing of crimes against innocents is unacceptable….period!

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6 thoughts on “War Crimes

  1. They can complain about war crimes all they like, justified or otherwise. But there seems to me to be little chance of ever prosecuting anyone for them, short of invading Russia, defeating them in an all-out war, then arresting everyone named by the ICC. Can’t see that happening in my lifetime, but you never know…
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. I’m all for it. But.. the fact is that it’s the nature of man to kill each other for any and all reasons, and war since the dawn of mankind has generally been all about “total war”. You fight, and the spoils go to the victors, and the victors write the histories. The reasons for war at all is to totally annihilate your enemy for whatever reason, one of which is subjugation.
    All that being said, post WW1 and 2, has spawned this concept that we can “self-clean” future warfare.. that we can set the rules for future wars in making the killing and conquering more.. “humane”. There’s a futile idiocy about it all actually. Doesn’t mean we should not try to take war criminals to justice.. but honestly, that’s an attempt of retribution by the victors… but we call it judicial retribution.. which is a kind of “democratic” way of hauling your defeated enemy through the town for the world to hurl hate and and cries of vengeance. It’s a bit of hypocrisy.. which I dare say is why America has not signed on to the agreement. Rules for “war crimes” can easily be applied to “good” countries as well as bad under certain conditions… that the possible guilty can travel right down to the individual soldier who was in the wrong place at the wrong time… the proverbial “camp guard who simply sat up in the watch tower who must pay for the crimes of the Holocaust”.
    Then there’s the other side of warfare. Do you piddle around trying to defeat another country using “total war” to save lives in the long run.. or try to fight “cleanly” and allow victory to drag on with even more casualties (ala, Vietnam, Afghanistan, et al.)?
    As I stated at the top.. I’m all for it… but I do not sign on to that process as some deterrent against future war, because the next country’s zealot will not pay attention to “Geneva” or any other city name. It’s strictly for the victors.

    1. I agree. Nuremberg was show trials…..if it were fair then neutral judges would have been used. Since few countries have signed on to the ICC it will be a waste of time…..the US has killed many innocents and we are in NO position to judge others on these atrocities. chuq

      1. Few countries are members of the ICC?

        The ICC has 123 members.

        in 1998 the US was one of only seven countries – along with China, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Qatar, and Yemen – that voted against the Rome Statute.

        Bush, Trump and Baldwin have taken always a hostile attitude and actions against the ICC.
        Obama was moderate.

        Furthermore I noticed that a lot of people are uninformed what, how the ICC can/cannot act.

        The ICC may not be petfect but it shall grow in it”t roll being a force for justice.

      2. I believe that if a nation signs onto the UN then they automatically sign on to the ICC…..notice the countries that have not signed on are the biggest problems in the world. Be well chuq

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