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War Crimes Investigators Establish Office In Ukraine

Charles R. Davis Sep 14, 2023, 12:17 PM EDT

A child is wrapped in a blanket as Ukrainian refugees cross the border into Poland from Ukraine at the border crossing in Medyka, eastern Poland. LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP via Getty Images

  • The International Criminal Court on Thursday formally opened an office in Kyiv.

  • ICC investigators are gathering evidence of alleged Russian war crimes, including child abduction.

  • The office is a "pivotal" move toward "restoring justice," Ukraine's top prosecutor said.

War crimes investigators opened an office in Kyiv on Thursday to investigate allegations that Russia has been abducting children. A top Ukrainian official described the move as a "pivotal" step toward achieving justice.


The International Criminal Court in March announced that it was issuing an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, declaring that he is "allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation" of children from occupied areas of Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials accuse Russia of having deported or forcibly displaced more than 19,500 children, a claim bolstered by independent investigations. Russia has admitted taking minors from Ukraine — and having them adopted by Russian families — but insists it has done so for their own safety. The Geneva Conventions generally prohibit the forcible transfer of civilians from occupied regions to the occupier's own territory.

On Thursday, the head of the ICC, Krim A. A. Khan, was in Kyiv to mark the opening of the new office following the signing of a cooperation agreement in March, under which Ukraine will share evidence it has gathered of possible Russian war crimes. It is one of just a handful of offices that the ICC operates around the globe.

Andriy Kostin, Ukraine's top prosecutor, welcomed the move.

"Today marks a pivotal stride in our journey towards restoring justice," Kostin wrote in a post on social media, saying Ukraine would provide access to witnesses and alleged crime scenes. "We are doing our utmost to ensure that the ICC experts can see the aftermath of the aggressor's crimes with their own eyes and draw their independent conclusions."

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