US President Joe Biden has joined the global outcry over the alleged massacre of civilians in Bucha over the weekend, demanding a “war crimes trial” of Russian President Vladimir Putin during a press briefing on Monday.
He went on to mention the need to “gather the information” and “get all the details” before “a real…war crimes trial”.
It comes as the United States seeks to suspend Russia’s membership on the United Nations Human Rights Council “in response to allegations that Russian forces have committed war crimes in Bucha and elsewhere in Ukraine,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US ambassador to the UN, announced on Monday, calling on the 140 nations who voted last month to condemn the Russian military operation in Ukraine to “match our words with action”.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) opened an investigation in March into alleged war crimes and other offenses committed during Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine, having “already found a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court had been committed,” the ICC prosecutor said. Karim Khan said in a statement released at the time.
Graphic images of Bucha, a town northwest of kyiv, emerged over the weekend showing several bodies dressed in civilian clothes strewn about. kyiv was quick to blame the Russian forces. Moscow has categorically denied any involvement and says the incident was staged for the sake of Western media, with Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Security Council Dmitry Polyansky calling it a “blatant provocation Ukrainian radicals”.
Despite Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov’s appeal for “serious skepticism” and multiple inconsistencies casting doubt on the veracity of the evidence, US officials on both sides echoed kyiv’s claims and blamed Russian forces of “war crimes”, with the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez. (D-New Jersey) and Ranking Republican Member Jim Risch (R-Idaho) calling for “accountability” and naming Putin as the one responsible. Last month, the US Senate passed a resolution deeming the Russian president a war criminal.
However, the United States is not a state party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, a 2002 treaty establishing the organization as “an independent permanent international criminal court in relation to the United Nations system, with jurisdiction over the most serious crimes”. to the international community as a whole.
While the Obama administration had a working relationship with the court as an observer, the United States’ stance on the international legal body came to a head under President Trump, who denounced the ICC. as part of an “unelected and unaccountable global bureaucracy” without “any jurisdiction”. , no legitimacy and no authority” in a 2018 speech at the United Nations.
In 2020, the United States imposed sanctions on ICC officials in retaliation for its investigation into possible war crimes committed by the United States during its 20-year war in Afghanistan. When the Biden administration lifted those sanctions in 2021, it explicitly maintained its insistence on US autonomy, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressing Washington’s “longstanding objection to the court’s efforts to assert jurisdiction over personnel from non-party states such as the United States and Israel.”
Moscow launched a full-scale offensive against Ukraine in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbas republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The protocols negotiated by Germany and France were designed to regularize the status of these regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO bloc. kyiv insists the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied claims it planned to retake the two rebel regions by force.