The International Criminal Court May Begin Prosecutions of Russian War Crimes by this Winter

The International Criminal Court May Begin Prosecutions of Russian War Crimes by this Winter
Photo by Justflix via Wikipedia Commons


Ryan Haigh

International Justice and Human Rights Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence

Sources associated with the International Criminal Court in the Hague have disclosed that the first prosecution of Russian personnel for war crimes committed in Ukraine may occur as early as the end of 2022.  The sources spoke on condition of anonymity and declined to provide specifics. [1]

The ICC has been involved in pursuing such perpetrators via three avenues.  The ICC Office of the Prosecutor has been participating in the joint investigative teams that consists of numerous European legal and judicial authorities.  It has been coordinating with Eurojust and providing personnel to their investigative teams.  Finally, the Office of the Prosecutor has been working with Ukraine directly, negotiating for the transport of a Russian prisoner of war who may be willing to testify on behalf of the prosecution. 

As of 15 August 2022, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has reported that 5,514 civilians have been killed.  The OHCHR notes that the actual figures are likely much higher, but intense hostilities continue to preclude a thorough accounting.  The organization reports that most civilian casualties have been caused by exploding or incendiary weapons with a large areas-of-effect, such as artillery, rockets, and missiles. [2]

25,000 cases of Russian war crimes have been identified thus far.  Russia appears to be banking on the impunity they have been able to exercise in prior conflicts.  In 2005, the European Court of Human Rights held that Russian troops knowingly bombed a civilian transport in Chechnya in 1999.  This holding was only one of four to arise out of the Chechnyan conflicts.  Further, Russia announced it was leaving the Council of Europe in March, signaling its refusal to recognize the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.   Domestic prosecutions in Ukraine, as well as those allegedly forthcoming at the ICC will be necessary to ensure Russian troops are held accountable for their violations of international humanitarian law and war crimes.

[1]  Alberto Nardelli, Jennifer Jacobs and Alex Wickham, ‘Russians May Face First Hague War Crimes Case by End of Year’ Bloomberg – European Edition (July 20, 2022) at

[2] Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights ‘Ukraine: Civilian Casualty Update 15 August 2022’  OHCHR Press Release (15 August 2022) at