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US Senate hawks urge Biden to help ICC with Putin war crimes probe

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the plenary session of the First Eurasian Economic Forum in Bishkek, via video link from Moscow, Russia on May 26, 2022. (Sputnik photo)

A number of anti-Russia senators in the United States have asked US President Joe Biden to share information with the International Criminal Court (ICC) to help the court pursue charges of war crimes against Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.

Senators Dick Durbin, Bob Menendez, Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse from the Democratic Party as well as Republicans Lindsey Graham and Thom Tillis held the Biden administration responsible for not delivering” on its “promise” to hold Putin accountable for what they called war crimes in Ukraine.

Biden has “bipartisan support for delivering” on his “promise” in this regard, US senators wrote on Friday. 

The senators urged the Biden administration to share information with the ICC that could assist as it pursues war crimes charges alleged against Putin.

ICC last week issued an arrest warrant for Putin, accusing him of the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine.

The ICC's arrest warrant will now obligate the court’s 123 member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot on their territory.

The letter to Biden from the US senators emphasized that Congress passed legislation to give the Biden administration more flexibility in assisting the ICC.

“Yet, months later, as the ICC is working to build cases against Russian officials, including Putin himself, the United States reportedly has not yet shared key evidence that could aid in these prosecutions,” the letter said.

“Knowing of your support for the important cause of accountability in Ukraine, we urge you to move forward expeditiously with support to the ICC’s work so that Putin and others around him know in no uncertain terms that accountability and justice for their crimes are forthcoming,” the letter said.

Biden has claimed that Russia is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine, adding that the ICC warrant for Putin's arrest was justified.

However, the United States itself is not a member state of the ICC and has consistently denied that the court has any authority to investigate charges of war crimes lodged against US forces.

So, as the US calls for holding the Russian leader accountable, it is denying the court the chance to investigate the crimes of American officials as well as the actions of its allies.

The US Department of Defense, according to new reports earlier this month, would not share information about Russian atrocities with the ICC, out of concern it would create a precedent that could eventually be applied to US officials accused of war crimes.

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