The office of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Monday said it will seek court approval to open an investigation into alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
Prosecutor Karim Khan on Friday expressed his concern over the Russian invasion and said the court may investigate alleged crimes arising from the current situation.
“The next step is to proceed with the process of seeking and obtaining authorisation from the Pre-Trial Chamber of the Court to open an investigation,” the prosecutor said in a statement on Monday.
Dozens of people were killed in rocket strikes by Russian forces in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Monday morning, Ukraine’s home office adviser Anton Herashchenko said.
“Kharkiv has just been massively fired upon by grads [rockets]. Dozens of dead and hundreds of wounded,” he said in a post on Facebook.
Air raid sirens are also ringing out in the capital city of Kyiv.
It comes as French president Emmanuel Macron urged a ceasefire during a phone call with Russian president Vladimir Putin today.
He asked for an end to attacks on civilians, and to protect civilian infrastructure.
“President Putin confirmed his willingness to commit on these three points,” the Elysee palace said, adding that Macron and Putin also agreed to stay in contact over coming days.
Talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials which began on the Belarusian border on Monday ended without a breakthrough. A member of the Ukrainian delegation said the discussions were difficult and the Russian side was biased.
It comes as Russia’s diplomatic and economic isolation deepened four days after it invaded Ukraine, the biggest assault on a European state since World War Two.
Ukrainian troops slowed Russia’s advance on key cities, at least for now, while a Ukrainian delegation arrived at the border with Belarus on Monday for talks with Russian officials, though prospects looked uncertain at best.
Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov appealed directly to Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine on Monday, saying they would receive full amnesty and monetary compensation if they voluntarily laid down their weapons.
“Those of you who do not want to become a murderer and die can save yourselves,” he said in a post on social media.
European Union defence ministers were also to meet, to discuss how to get weaponry they have pledged into Ukraine.
Western sanctions triggered by the invasion sent the rouble plummeting, leading Russians to line up at banks and ATMs.
Meanwhile, Russian national and football teams have been suspended until further notice by Fifa and Uefa as of this evening.
Shell will exit all its Russian operations, including a major liquefied natural gas plant, it said on Monday, becoming the latest major Western energy company to quit the oil-rich country following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian military assault on Ukraine went into its fifth day after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his nuclear forces put on increased alert, ratcheting up tensions yet further.
Kyiv’s outgunned but determined troops slowed Russia’s advance and held onto the capital and other key cities — at least for the time being.
Explosions and gunfire that have disrupted life since the invasion began last week appeared to subside around Kyiv overnight. Long lines formed outside supermarkets on Monday as residents were allowed out of bomb shelters and homes for the first time since a curfew imposed Saturday
Exact death tolls are unclear, but Ukraine’s president says at least 16 children have been killed and another 45 wounded, among hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other casualties. Millions have fled homes or the country.
U.S. officials say they believe the invasion has been more difficult, and slower, than the Kremlin envisioned, though that could change as Moscow adapts. The British Defence Ministry said that the bulk of Putin’s forces are about 30km north of Kyiv, their advance having been slowed by Ukrainian forces.
U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet says her office has confirmed that 102 civilians, including seven children, have been killed, and 304 others injured in violence in Ukraine since Thursday. She cautioned that the tally was likely a vast undercount.
At least 500,000 refugees have fled Ukraine.
Blasts were heard in the capital Kyiv and in the major city of Kharkiv on Monday morning, Ukrainian officials said, while a residential building in Chernihiv in northern Ukraine was on fire after being struck by a missile.
NATO partners are providing Ukraine with air-defence missiles and anti-tank weapons, NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg said in a tweet, adding that he had held another phone conversation with Ukraine’s president earlier.
Airlines on Monday braced for a potentially lengthy sanctions war after the European Union banned Russian airlines and Moscow pledged to retaliate. Dozens of flights were cancelled or sent on costly detours as the crisis hit airline shares.
Britain said it was taking further measures against Russia in concert with the United States and European Union, effectively cutting off Moscow’s major financial institutions from Western financial markets.
Energy giant BP, global bank HSBC and the world’s biggest aircraft leasing firm AerCap joined a growing list of Western firms looking to exit Russia as Western sanctions tightened the screws on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
Crude oil jumped while the rouble plunged nearly 30pc to a fresh record low after new sanctions were imposed, including blocking some banks from the SWIFT international payments system.
Tens of thousands of people across Europe marched in protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Sunday. More than 5,500 people have been detained at various anti-war protests in Russia since the invasion began.
Ukraine lodged a case against Russia at world court, citing erroneous allegations of genocide against Kyiv.
Vladimir Putin yesterday put Russia’s nuclear arsenal on standby amid growing fears he could deploy weapons of mass destruction to avoid the humiliation of defeat in Ukraine.
Mr Putin blamed the West’s “unfriendly steps” when ordering Russia’s military command to put its nuclear deterrent “into a special mode of combat service”.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has claimed that Putin placed nuclear deterrence forces on high alert after statements from UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
According to the Interfax news agency, Mr Peskov told a press briefing: “Statements were made by various representatives at various levels on possible altercations or even collisions and clashes between Nato and Russia.
“We believe that such statements are absolutely unacceptable.
“I would not call the authors of these statements by name, although it was the British foreign minister.”
After four days of fighting, Russia’s advance has become bogged down and troops repelled after fierce fighting in the capital Kyiv and in Kharkiv, its second city.
Military analysts claimed Russian forces had suffered their “worst day” while Kharkiv’s governor said his city had been “cleansed of the enemy”.
Russia admitted for the first time yesterday it had suffered casualties but insisted Ukraine’s claims of 4,300 soldiers killed was inaccurate.
Russian billionaire businessman Roman Abramovich, who owns Premier League club Chelsea, has accepted a Ukrainian request to help negotiate an end to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, his spokeswoman said.
“I can confirm Roman Abramovich was contacted by the Ukrainian side for support in achieving a peaceful resolution, and that he has been trying to help ever since,” a spokeswoman said.
“Considering what is at stake, we would ask for understanding as to why we have not commented on either the situation as such or his involvement.”
Abramovich, who is Jewish and has Israeli citizenship, was one of the most powerful businessmen who earned fabulous fortunes after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.
The Vatican said on Monday it was ready to “facilitate dialogue” between Russia and Ukraine to end the war, and called for an immediate stop to the “military attack”.
Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who ranks second only to the pope in the Vatican hierarchy, told Italian newspapers that “despite the war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine” he was “convinced there is always room for negotiations”.
The Russian military says that residents of the Ukrainian capital can use a safe corridor to leave the city if they want.
Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Monday that Kyiv residents can safely use a highway leading to Vasylkiv just southwest of the Ukrainian capital. The statement came as fighting raged in various parts of the Ukrainian capital, with Ukrainian authorities saying that they were fighting small groups of Russian forces in various sectors of the capital.
Konashenkov charged that Ukrainian “nationalists” were deploying military equipment using the city residents as shields, in allegations that can’t be independently verified. Despite Russian military claims that it wasn’t targeting populated areas, residential buildings, hospitals and schools have been hit all across Ukraine during the Russian invasion that began Thursday.
Konashenkov also announced new land gains, saying Russian troops have taken control of the area around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in the south, noting that the plant was safe and the radiation levels in the area have remained normal.
The Russian rouble has dropped to an all time low by 30pc against the US dollar, after sanctions started to squeeze.
The drop in the Russian currency has resulted from economic sanctions due to the Ukraine invasion.
Some of the country’s banks have been banned from using the Swift International Payment System.
Yesterday, Russia’s central bank asked for the public to remain calm after a run on the nation’s banks.
The Bank of Russia raised its base rate to 20pc from 9.5pc to protect the economy from the impact on prices.
EU to supply weapons
In an increasingly aggressive Western reaction to the war, the European Union took the unprecedented step of agreeing to supply Ukraine with weapons while ratcheting up sanctions by banning all Russian airline flights from EU airspace, effectively cutting off travel to the West.
In a televised address, broadcast from the Kremlin, Mr Putin said: “I order the defence minister and the chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces to put the deterrence forces of the Russian army into a special mode of combat service.
“You see that Western countries are not only unfriendly to our country in the economic sphere – I mean illegitimate sanctions. Senior officials of leading Nato countries also allow aggressive statements against our country.”
Russian troops were repelled from Kharkiv yesterday after entering the city just after dawn in the latest blow to Mr Putin’s plan for a rapid victory.
There were reports of tanks and armoured vehicles running out of fuel and being left abandoned at the roadside and soldiers looting supermarkets to feed themselves after a break in supply lines.
Drone footage posted online showed at least two Russian convoys hit in air strikes as the Kremlin’s forces failed to establish air superiority, critical to any successful invasion.
However, last night a three-mile long convoy of armoured vehicles, tanks and troops was spotted by satellite moving towards Kyiv. The mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said residents could no longer be evacuated amid fears the city is now surrounded.
Senior US defence officials yesterday warned Russian forces could be shifting to siege warfare, “increasing the likelihood of collateral damage to civilian life”, after their failure to topple the government.
Radioactive site hit
The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog says missiles have hit a radioactive waste disposal site in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, but there are no reports of damage to the buildings or indications of a release of radioactive material.
International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi says Ukrainian authorities informed his office about the overnight strike. He says his agency expects to soon receive the results of on-site radioactive monitoring.
The report came a day after an electrical transformer at a similar disposal facility in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv was damaged.
Such facilities typically hold low-level radioactive materials such as waste from hospitals and industry, but Grossi says the two incidents highlight a “very real risk.” He says if the sites are damaged there could be “potentially severe consequences for human health and the environment.”
One of Mr Putin’s closest allies – the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov – criticised Russian tactics as “too slow”, demanding his feared fighters be let loose to “finish off the Nazis and terrorists”.
The EU foreign policy chief said Russia had clearly threatened a nuclear attack on countries supporting Ukraine after the invasion.
“Just to mention the possibility of using nuclear weapons – it’s such a gigantic irresponsibility that says a lot about the personality of (the person) who is doing that,” Josep Borrell told a news conference in Brussels.
“We are afraid that Russia is not going to stop in Ukraine.”
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the UN Security Council: “This is another escalatory and unnecessary step that threatens us all.
“We urge Russia to tone down this dangerous rhetoric regarding nuclear weapons.”
The two major bodies in the United Nations will hold separate meetings on Monday on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The meetings of the 193-nation General Assembly and the more powerful 15-member Security Council reflect widespread demands for a cease-fire and escalating concern for the millions of Ukrainians caught up in the war.
The Security Council gave a green light on Sunday for the first emergency session of the General Assembly in decades. It will give all U.N. members an opportunity to speak about the war and vote on a resolution that U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said would “hold Russia to account for its indefensible actions and for its violations of the U.N. Charter.”
Russian media sites have been hacked and replaced with a “tombstone” for the war dead, in a mass cyber attack.
It is the latest high profile cyber attack made as part of the fight against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and took down a host of Russian media sites, including TASS and Kommersant.
Hackers appeared to associate themselves with Anonymous, the loose internet activist collective that has seen renewed activity as tensions have risen.
The message included the number “5,300”, the number of Russian troops that Ukraine claims to have killed.
It also includes anti-war messages, suggesting that Vladimir Putin has begun the war to “get into the history books”.
At the bottom were the words “Anonymous”, and the besuited figure that the group uses as a symbol.
The message also warns that it will eventually be deleted, and that attackers could be fired or imprisoned. “But we can’t stand it anymore,” the message reads.
Soon after it appeared, the post was deleted but the sites affected – which included many of Russia’s biggest domestic news sites – were still offline.
Security officials at Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, said they identified an increase in attempts to hack the accounts of public figures in Ukraine, including a journalist, members of the Ukrainian military and at least one politician. Separately, they said the company disrupted a misinformation network run by people in Russia and Ukraine.
The hacking attempts originated from a group known to security experts as Ghostwriter, said Nathaniel Gleicher, Meta’s head of security policy. That group generally tries to break into the social media accounts of its targets and then post misinformation as if it had originated with the targets themselves. For instance, the company observed several attempts to get people to post videos that allegedly showed Ukrainian soldiers surrendering, Gleicher said.
The relatively small misinformation network, by contrast, ran several false websites that masqueraded as news outlets and published claims that the West was betraying Ukraine. It also created fictitious personas that posed as news editors, an aviation expert and the author of a scientific publication. Meta security teams took down about 40 fake accounts, pages and groups involved in this operation, none of which appeared to have significant followings.
Russia’s investigative agency says it has opened a probe into the allegations of torture of Russian prisoners of war by members of Ukrainian forces.
The Investigative Committee, the main state criminal investigation agency, said Monday that the probe will track down people responsible for torturing Russian prisoners.
The move followed the claim by Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, who pointed at alleged incidents in which Ukrainian forces tortured Russian prisoners and vowed to track all the culprits down and bring them to justice. He didn’t provide details or evidence to back the claim.
Russian officials have sought to cast members of Ukraine’s right-wing groups as “neo-Nazis.”
Taoiseach Micheál Martin warned yesterday that Ireland is ruling nothing out in terms of economic, travel and diplomatic sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
But the Taoiseach – speaking in Cork – stressed that Ireland will only act in close consort with the European Union and United Nations to exert maximum pressure on Moscow to comply with international law and respect Ukrainian territory.
Mr Martin said Ireland wanted to show solidarity with the Ukrainian government and people as they battled bravely to defend their independence.
“I believe that the financial sanctions and the various other sanctions that we have announced collectively do represent an unprecedented response to an unjustifiable war.
“I think it is shocking what we are witnessing on our television screens. People are finding it very difficult to comprehend that in this day and age such atrocities can occur.”
Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the nuclear threat was “utterly appalling”.
His comments came as major demonstrations were staged in Dublin, Cork and Galway in support of the embattled Ukrainian people.
National collections of clothing, foodstuffs and medical supplies are also under way.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday said Mr Putin’s nuclear threat was a “distraction from what’s really going on in Ukraine” as resistance forces put up more of a fight than the Kremlin was expecting.
A senior military source warned of the risks of widening the conflict.
“Putin’s strategy is escalation and hence the announcement on nuclear weapons,” the source said. “The West needs to avoid being too breathless and too optimistic about the outcome of this war. The first round has gone to Ukraine but there are many more.”
With Russia failing to make gains in Ukraine, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss spoke of her fears that Mr Putin could order the use of “the most unsavoury” weapons. She said: “This could well be the beginning of the end for Putin. I fear that he is prepared to use the most unsavoury means in this war.”
She did not rule out his deployment of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, adding: “I fear this conflict could be very, very bloody. I urge the Russians not to escalate this conflict but we do need to be prepared for Russia to seek to use even worse weapons. I think it would be hugely devastating.”
Yesterday, the UK Foreign Secretary gave official backing to the call of Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky for foreign fighters to travel to Ukraine as part of an international resistance force.
However, she was contradicted by her country’s defence secretary today. Ben Wallace said only trained fighters would be of any use in the war.
In a glimmer of hope of an early settlement to hostilities, Mr Zelensky announced he had agreed to talks with a Russian delegation on the Ukraine-Belarus border. The Ukrainian leader had earlier rejected an offer of talks in Belarus, saying the Russian ally had been a launchpad for the invasion of his country.
It was not clear when they would start. “I do not really believe in the outcome of this meeting, but let them try, so that later not a single citizen of Ukraine has any doubt that I, as president, tried to stop the war,” Mr Zelenskiy said.
Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba accused Mr Putin of ordering the nuclear deterrent on high alert to put pressure on Kyiv at the start of the talks but that his government would not be cowed.
The EU’s decision to supply weapons to Ukraine will bolster its government.
The EU also announced fresh sanctions against Russia and its “collaborator” Belarus and vowed to ban RT and Sputnik, Russia’s media outlets, from broadcasting. Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said military aid might include fighter-jets.
“This is a watershed moment,” said Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission.
Protests across Russia continued with a further 900 people arrested, bringing the total detained to more than 4,000.
The UN said almost 370,000 refugees had fled Ukraine into bordering countries, risking a humanitarian crisis.
The British oil company BP announced it would give up its 19.75pc stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft, writing off up to $25bn (€22bn).
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/international-court-to-probe-possible-war-crimes-in-ukraine-41392647.html International court to probe possible war crimes in Ukraine