The Hague, 3 March 2022 (TDI): The Presidency of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has designated the Situation in Ukraine to Pre-Trial Chamber II.

Pre-Trial Chamber II is composed of Judge Tomoko Akane, Judge Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua, and Judge Rosario Salvatore Aitala.

This decision has been taken in accordance with the memorandum of Karim A. A. Khan QC, the ICC Prosecutor, on 1 March 2022 after a Referral from 39 States Parties to open an investigation.

Karim A. A. Khan QC informed the Presidency of his intent to submit a request for authorization to open an investigation into the Ukraine Situation. He notified the judges of his intention to submit a request.

The request has been submitted under article 15(3) of the Rome Statute seeking authorization for an investigation into the Situation in Ukraine.

The investigation will be conducted with respect to alleged war crimes as well as crimes against humanity in Ukraine since 21 November 2013.

The Judges of the panel will have to assess if there are valid grounds to proceed with an investigation. This will be done after the examination of the Prosecutor’s request along with the supporting material.

Background: Russia-Ukraine Crisis

Russia on 24th February launched a military operation in Ukraine at the behest of its Security Council that convened a day before. Prior to this, a day before, Russia also recognized the Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk.

The Donetsk and Luhansk are a part of the Donbas region that is pro-Russia territory. Recently, Western countries had been alleging Russia about troops’ deployment on the border of Ukraine.

However, Russia had been denying the allegations by claiming that it has no intention to invade Ukraine. One of the main issues of contention between Russia and the EU/US is NATO’s beefed-up defenses in northeastern Europe and Ukraine’s intent to join NATO.

A series of negotiations were held between Russian and Western counterparts to avert escalation. Though, that indelibly failed. According to Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s stance regarding Ukraine is a matter of principle.

In this context, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that if attempts to come to terms on mutually acceptable principles fail, Russia will adopt an appropriate response.

Au contraire, the Ukrainian authorities had been alerting the world about a possible invasion. Throughout 2021 and 2022, Russia and the West had been engaged in a diplomatic tussle related to Ukraine.

The West kept accusing Russia of a military buildup on the border of Ukraine whilst Russia kept objecting to NATO’s expansionist agenda that is considered a threat to its strategic security.

Consequently, tensions escalated between the two countries and led to strained bilateral relations. Moreover, despite the United States and EU sending strong messages to warn Russia, the threat of economic isolation couldn’t deter Russia to compromise on what it considers its national interest.