Putin is a war criminal and should be treated as such | Russia-Ukraine crisis

On February 24, throughout a United Nations Safety Council assembly, Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN was knowledgeable that Russia’s invasion of his nation had begun. Moments later, Kyslytsya turned to his Russian counterpart Vassily Nebenzia and instructed him: “There isn’t any purgatory for battle criminals. They go straight to hell.”

There may be little doubt that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a violation of worldwide legislation and the UN Constitution. It’s also against the law. It ought to be referred to as as such, not solely by human rights and justice advocates, however by states.

In latest days, many state representatives, media, and students have rightly gone to nice lengths to emphasize the abhorrent behaviour of Russian President Vladimir Putin. However it’s nearly as if what Putin is doing now’s notably egregious. This invasion is the Russian president’s calling card and battle crimes are his signature.

The whole lot transpiring now in Ukraine, together with experiences of rocket assaults on civilian buildings, is par for Putin’s course. Days in the past, worldwide legislation students Frédéric Mégret and Kevin Jon Heller predicted that Putin would commit the crime of aggression by invading Ukraine. Nobody ought to be stunned if the state of affairs will get worse. Putin’s private biography is affected by the embrace of atrocity crimes and human rights violations.

Putin got here to fame and ultimately to energy on the again of Russia’s 1999-2000 battle in Chechnya. In annihilating the breakaway area’s separatist motion, the Russian authorities deployed horrific ranges of violence. Human Rights Watch has documented legions of atrocities, together with allegations that Russian forces “indiscriminately and disproportionately bombed and shelled civilian objects” and “ignored their Geneva conference obligations to focus their assaults on combatants”. The West responded meekly to allegations of battle crimes. Slightly than being condemned, Putin was largely hailed as a frontrunner who promised Russians a greater life and the West – higher relations, when he changed Boris Yeltsin as Russian president. That was to not be the case.

In 2008, Putin turned his consideration to Georgia and ordered Russian troops – whom he referred to as “peacekeepers” – to invade the Georgian provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. They weren’t there to maintain the peace. Whereas Moscow invoked humanitarian language in arguing that it had a “duty to guard” its residents in each territories, Russian forces indiscriminately attacked civilian targets – a battle crime.

In 2014, Putin invaded Ukraine, resulting in the unlawful occupation and annexation of Crimea whereas additionally igniting a battle in Luhansk and Donetsk that has price an estimated 14,000 lives. Through the violence, Russian-backed militants bombed Malaysia Airways Flight 17 over Ukraine, killing all 298 individuals onboard. Assaults by Russian forces towards civilians had been commonplace and allegations of homicide and torture had been reported in detention services – known as “Europe’s final focus camps” – run by pro-Russian separatists.

These are only a tiny cross-section of Putin’s crimes which were documented by human rights and investigation our bodies.

The alleged battle crimes and crimes towards humanity dedicated by Putin’s forces additionally galvanised the Worldwide Felony Courtroom (ICC), which opened an investigation into atrocities in Georgia in 2016 and accomplished an examination into these dedicated in Ukraine in 2020, concluding that there have been affordable grounds to consider that battle crimes and crimes towards humanity had been dedicated.

After which there’s Syria. For a decade, Putin has propped up Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad regardless of proof of atrocities that battle crimes investigators consider is the “strongest because the Nuremberg trials”.

Russian air forces have bombed hospitals and attacked civil defence forces working to rescue survivors within the wake of bombing raids. A 2020 report by the Fee of Inquiry on Syria, arrange by the UN Human Rights Council, discovered that Russia had bombed civilian areas in violation of the Geneva Conventions. As Kenneth Ward of the Arms Management Affiliation has noticed, Russia was additionally an enabler of chemical weapons assaults in Syria. Moscow protected Syria from any judicial scrutiny over its atrocities dedicated with and on behalf of Assad, by vetoing a referral of Syria to the ICC in 2014.

As if involvement in widespread and systematic worldwide crimes was not sufficient, Putin has additionally been accused of ordering the poisonings of Russian dissidents within the UK and the imprisonment of pro-democracy and human rights advocates. He has additionally been linked to corruption on a scale that quantities to a human rights violation.

None of that is the fault of Russia. Putin just isn’t Russia and Russia just isn’t Putin. Previously few days, hundreds of demonstrators throughout Russia have taken to the streets to protest the invasion of Ukraine, whereas “No to Battle” graffiti has popped up in quite a few Russian cities. It’s Putin – and his coterie of sycophants and enablers – who should be held to account.

Addressing the Russian president’s actions now is not only in regards to the assaults on Donetsk, Luhansk or the outskirts of Kyiv. It’s also in regards to the atrocities he has dedicated with impunity in Georgia, Crimea, Syria, Chechnya and elsewhere. It’s in regards to the atrocities that he has perpetrated and that too many states have turned a blind eye to within the false hope that he could possibly be contained and reasoned with.

As armoured columns drove into Ukraine, Canadian Ambassador to the UN Bob Rae referred to as Putin “a battle prison”. It could be that Putin by no means faces justice at a global tribunal just like the ICC. However the worldwide neighborhood ought to organise the gathering and preservation of proof of his atrocities as they occur, in real-time earlier than the eyes of the world. Possibly in the future that proof can be utilized to prosecute Putin and his regime. Above all, states ought to deal with Putin for what he’s and what he has carried out: a prison for whom the legal guidelines of battle and the norms of humanity imply nothing in any respect.

The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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