Tuesday, 12 March ‘24

This week’s overview of key events and links to essential reading.

Tuesday, 12 March ‘24

This week’s overview of key events and links to essential reading.

Tuesday, 12 March, 2024


Institute for War & Peace Reporting

ICC Issues Arrest Warrants Against Two Russian Commanders

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for top Russian commanders over alleged war crimes committed in Ukraine between October 2022 and March 2023. 

In a statement issued on March 5, the ICC said that there were “reasonable grounds to believe” that Sergei Kobylash and Viktor Sokolov, an army lieutenant general and a navy admiral, were responsible for "missile strikes carried out by the forces under their command against the Ukrainian electric infrastructure”. The statement continued that "the intended strikes were directed against civilian objects” and that the incidental damage and loss would be excessive for the expected military advantage.

According to the ICC, Kobylash, 58, was the commander of long-range aviation for the Russian air force at the time of the alleged crimes, while Sokolov, 61, was an admiral in the Russian navy who commanded the Black Sea Fleet during the period to which the charges relate. 

According to Ukrainian investigators, cruise missiles, including the 3M14 Caliber type, were used for air attacks on energy facilities which also killed and injured scores of civilians. 

This is the ICC’s second round of warrants for Russian officials related to the war in Ukraine. The first were issued in March 2023 against  President Vladimir Putin and his children's rights commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova over the deportation of Ukrainian children.

Russian Generals Suspected Over Airstrikes on Borodyanka Buildings

Investigators from the security service (SBU) reported the suspicion in absentia against Colonel-General Aleksandr Chayko and Lieutenant-General Vladimir Kravchenko for ordering the shelling of civilian areas in violation of the laws and customs of war, combined with intentional murder by a group of persons (Part 2 of Article 28 and Part 2 of Article 438 of the criminal code). 

Chayko, 52, is the commander of the Eastern Military of Russia’s Armed Forces, and Kravchenko, 61, heads the 11th Army of Russia’s Air Force and Air Defense. 

According to the investigation, at the beginning of March 2022 during the offensive on the capital, the two top officials ordered the bombing of residential areas in Borodyanka, a village in the Kyiv region. Chayko reportedly gave a direct order to fire on apartment buildings in the center of Borodyanka, and Kravchenko used SU-34 fighter-bombers and SU-25 attack aircraft.

On March 1 and 2, 2022, the Russian army carried out eight aerial strikes with 500-kilogramme high-explosive aerial bombs, which destroyed six apartment buildings and killed more than 30 residents. According to the SBU, some victims have not been identified yet and are considered missing.

Three Soldiers Issued Suspicion For Torturing Kharkiv Teenager

Police investigators in Kharkiv reported in absentia the suspicion against three Ukrainians for torturing a teenager in violation of the laws and customs of war under Part 2 of Article 28 and Part 1 of Article 438 of the criminal code. The three suspects, residents of Kupyansk, a town about 117 kilometres south-west of Kharkiv, are Vitaly Surin, 32, Maksym Cheridnyk, 28, and Ihor Babarykin, 28. Surin and Babarykin are also suspected of collaborative activity (Part 7 of Article 111-1 of the criminal code) for  voluntarily holding a post in an illegal law enforcement agency. 

According to the investigation, in August 2022 three armed men in military uniform dragged a 16-year-old boy into a car and took him to the torture chamber set up in the police station of Kupyansk. He was kept hostage for 16 days as the three identified men tried to get information about pro-Ukrainian citizens in Kupyansk district.

The boy was mocked, beaten, tortured and starved. A gas mask was placed on his face blocking his breathing, he was sent to dismantle rubble after shelling and forced to wash the cars of the Russian military.

Chernihiv Court Rejects Appeal to Russian Commander's Sentence

On February 21, the Chernihiv court of appeal rejected the request of the defense lawyer of Russian commander Nikolai Khachaturyan to overturn the sentence in absentia of 12 years in prison for taking a 15-year-old boy hostage in March 2022. The punishment is the maximum foreseen for violating the laws and customs of war under Part 2 of Article 28 and Part 1 of Article 438 of the criminal code; it was issued on December 4, 2023. 

The Russian soldier and his accomplices held the teenager hostage for four days to force his mother, a Ukrainian soldier, to provide information about the locations of Ukraine’s Armed Forces and forced him to record voice messages for her.

With the rejection of the appeal, Khachaturian's sentence has entered into legal force.

Prosecutors to Investigate Looting of Ukrainian Museums

Oleksiy Khomenko, first deputy prosecutor general of Ukraine, said that authorities were investigating the theft of tens of thousands of items in 40 museums across the country since Russia’s invasion, including in Mariupol, Melitopol and Kherson. 

In November 2022, before Ukrainian forces regained control of the southern port city of Kherson, the Russian military, aided by the occupation administration, stole more than 10,000 exhibits from the Oleksii Shovkunenko Kherson Regional Art Museum. Over 5,000 exhibited items and more than 23,000 objects from the fund storage were taken out of the Kherson Regional Museum of Local Lore, including coins, weapons, Sarmatian jewelry, antique furniture, icons and paintings.

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