Russia is responding to accusations of war crimes by making accusations of its own. Moscow has charged 92 members of Ukraine’s armed forces with crimes against humanity. It proposed an international tribunal backed by “independent” countries including Bolivia, Iran, and Syria, according to Alexander Bastrykin, the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee.
The three countries mentioned by Moscow consistently back Russia in any conflict with the U.S. or the West. Bastrykin said that Moscow is accusing “more than 220 persons, including representatives of the high command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as commanders of military units that shelled the civilian population.”
Bastrykin was quoted by the state-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta as saying that Moscow has opened more than 1,300 criminal investigations into Ukraine’s military and government leaders.
“In the course of the preliminary investigation, more than 220 people have been identified as involved in crimes against the peace and security of humanity that do not have a statute of limitations, including representatives of the high command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as commanders of military units that fired at civilians,” Bastrykin said.
“A total of 92 commanders and their subordinates have been charged. Ninety-six people were put on the wanted list, in particular 51 commanders of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” he added.
Tens of Thousands of Alleged Russian War Crimes
Earlier this month, the U.S. and more than 40 other countries agreed to coordinate investigations into suspected Russian war crimes in Ukraine. Since the war began in late February, the Russians have consistently and indiscriminately shelled civilian areas and infrastructure. There is evidence of rape and summary executions in many areas – especially in Bucha.
Ukrainian authorities also said earlier this month that they were investigating more than 21,000 war crimes and crimes of aggression allegedly committed by Russian forces. Russia has repeatedly denied targeting civilians. It issued such a denial again on Saturday after its forces hit the port of Odesa – a strike that came less than a day after signing a deal to allow Ukraine to ship grain to famine-struck locations.
Russia soon did an about-face and claimed they had sunk a naval vessel. Moscow then changed its story again and said that cruise missiles hit military infrastructure that was unrelated to the grain deal. The International Criminal Court has sent a team of investigators and forensics experts to Ukraine and characterized it as a “crime scene.”
Will Ukrainian Grain finally Leave Port?
Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s Minister of Infrastructure, posted on Facebook, “We continue technical preparations to launch the export of agricultural products from our ports.” The ports in question are Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Pivdennyi, and they have been essentially shut down since the Russian invasion began in February.
Oksana Markarova, Kyiv’s ambassador to the U.S., said that Ukraine would “do everything in order to perform and fulfill our part of the deal” and “feed the world,” adding that Russia was not acting in good faith.
Under the agreement, Ukrainian vessels carrying grain will form up and be escorted from the ports to the Bosporus Strait by ships from Russia, Turkey, and another country that has not been named. The vessels will be inspected to ensure that they are not carrying weapons before they are allowed to transit to the open ocean.
On their return, the empty ships will again be inspected for weapons.
Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com and other military news organizations, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for over 11 years. His work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.