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War crimes: the accuser and accused

War crimes: the accuser and accused

In response to a reporter's question, US President Joe Biden answered, apparently in retrospection, about Vladimir Putin by saying, "Yes, he is a war criminal." However, later, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki softened the statement, saying that Biden had only spoken the language of the heart, and that war crimes were only at the stage of investigation. But Russia reacted sharply, saying that the United States was speaking seriously. For just before Biden's statement, the U.S. Senate had unanimously passed a resolution calling for Putin to be tried for war crimes. Ukraine's defence minister has called on EU leaders to declare Putin a war criminal. At the International Criminal Court (ICC), 39 member states have demanded an investigation against Russia, and accordingly ICC Prosecutor Karim A. Khan has initiated proceedings. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) under the United Nations, has asked Russia to suspend its invasion of Ukraine. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told the British Parliament that what Russia is currently doing in Ukraine could be classified as a war crime. Voluntary bodies such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also condemned the crimes committed by Russia.

There is no doubt that the atrocities committed by the Russian military in Ukraine with the knowledge and approval of Putin are unjustifiable offences under the Rome Statute (1998), the founding law of the ICC, the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Convention. Disproportionate destruction and deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian assets will come under war crimes. In recent days, Russia bombed and destroyed a hospital and a theatre. Attacking civilians and authorising it knowing that they will be killed, also constitute war crimes. In addition, the ICC can prosecute and punish crimes against humanity, which include mass killing and genocide. Russia's actions in Ukraine can all be classified under these counts. In the past, the ICC has convicted several political leaders, including Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic and Ralko Mladic, for war crimes. But the problem is that this justice is not applied to everyone. First, neither Russia nor the United States has recognised the ICC. Therefore, they contend that they are not within the jurisdiction of the ICC. Second, there is no substantive difference between the accuser and the accused in the matter of war crimes.

The United States, which now blames Russia for recognizing Ukraine's secessionist republics, has recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital defying the UN resolution. The United States cannot accept Russia vetoing a Security Council resolution. But the US has vetoed as many as 53 resolutions that condemned Israel for its unjust occupation of Palestine. What did the US, which condemns Russia for encroaching on Ukraine and Crimea, do in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan? Didn't the US and Bush commit war crimes against Iraq in 2003? And George W. Bush's attack to destroy Afghanistan and Iraq based on his doctrine of pre-emptive strike saying that the UN Charter was dead, and international law would not apply to the US, was even more brutal than what Putin is doing today. What NATO military alliance did to Libya in 2011 was no different. Though the United States now accuses Putin of trying to overthrow the current Ukrainian government and to install its own puppet government through ruthless military strike, America has done the same in many countries. It is paradoxical that the United States, which had demanded special immunity for its troops from punishment for war crimes, is today raising war crimes allegations against Russia. . Be it the the United States or Russia, when they abuse international forums including the United Nations for their own interests, all talk of justice becomes futile.

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TAGS:Biden calling PUtin war criminal British and EU charge of Putin's war crimes past US actions similar vetoing UN resolution against Israel 
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