World at War
Anger From Ukraine’s Backers After Damning Amnesty Report Spotlights ‘Human Shields’
Amnesty International has in a surprise shift placed its human rights scrutiny on Ukraine in a fresh report released Thursday. It immediately sparked a firestorm of criticism as both Western pundits and Kiev officials themselves blasted the findings as “unfair”.
The Amnesty report said investigators had “found evidence of Ukrainian forces launching strikes from within populated residential areas, as well as basing themselves in civilian buildings in 19 towns and villages” in three war-torn regions of the country from April through July.
The report detailed that schools and hospitals, as well as people’s homes, were put in harm’s way, suggesting ‘human shields’ type tactics utilized by the Ukrainian military.
“Such tactics violate international humanitarian law and endanger civilians, as they turn civilian objects into military targets. The ensuing Russian strikes in populated areas have killed civilians and destroyed civilian infrastructure,” Amnesty continued, saying this resulted in Russian attacks on said civilian infrastructure.
The report detailed further that in 22 of 29 schools visited by an Amnesty team between April and July, investigators found evidence of prior military activity. Additionally, five instances of Ukrainian troops using hospitals as bases were documented. The report went so far as to stress Amnesty was “not aware” of instances where Ukrainian troops first tried to evacuate civilians from these locations.
Despite being under pressure to refrain from investigating the Ukrainian side and to not criticize it for human rights abuses, Secretary General of Amnesty International Agnès Callamard said in releasing the report:
“Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law.”
Naturally, that so respected a premier human rights organization based in the West condemned these practices of the Ukrainian army resulted in backlash from Kiev leaders, as well as some Western pundits who went so far as to level the usual “Putin-sympathizers!” charge…
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba was quick to blast the Amnesty report, saying, “I understand that Amnesty will respond to criticism by saying that they criticize both sides of the conflict. But such behavior on Amnesty’s part is not about looking for the truth and presenting it to the world, but about creating a false balance between the criminal and his victim.”
Other commentators said it was tantamount to “victim-blaming”…
The Kremlin, meanwhile, said the report confirms what Russia has been saying for a long time. Spokesperson Maria Zakharova said, “We’ve been talking about this constantly, calling the actions of the Ukrainian armed forces the tactics of using civilians as a ‘human shield’.”This article was originally published at Zero Hedge
World at War
Medvedev Warns Germany Arrest of Putin Will be Declaration of War on Russia
Says Moscow could bomb the International Criminal Court.
Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev has warned Germany that any attempt to arrest President Vladimir Putin will represent a declaration of war on Russia and said Moscow could respond by bombing the International Criminal Court.
Medvedev made the threat after the the International Criminal Court at the Hague issued an arrest warrant for Putin, accusing him of perpetrating war crimes by being involved in the forcible transfer of children from Ukraine to Russia.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he supported the ruling and during a visit to Japan said “no one is above the law.”
Russia, which doesn’t recognize the authority of the ICC and is not a member of it, hasn’t reacted kindly.
“Some idiots, halfwits like the German justice minister, say, ‘Well, if he comes, we’ll arrest him.’.. Does he understand what that means? Let’s imagine… the incumbent head of a nuclear state arrives on the territory of, say, Germany and is arrested. What is this? A declaration of war on the Russian Federation!” Medvedev said in an interview Russian media outlets.
Medvedev said Moscow would respond by targeting “the Bundestag, the chancellor’s office, and so on.”
The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant against Vladimir Putin. No need to explain WHERE this paper should be used🧻.
— Dmitry Medvedev (@MedvedevRussiaE) March 17, 2023
The former president even suggested in a Telegram message sent to his followers that Russia could bomb the ICC headquarters.
“It is quite possible to imagine the targeted use of a hypersonic launch from the North Sea from a Russian ship at the Hague courthouse,” wrote Medvedev, describing the court as “shitty” and “useless”.
“The court is just a miserable international organization,” he added, noting that those working within it should “carefully look into the sky” to see if they can spot Russian missiles.
He went on to add that Russian relations with the west “have probably never been worse in history” and that NATO’s goal was to wipe out Russia altogether.
“They do not want to see the Russian Federation itself, they don’t need us. And this is their geopolitical, geostrategic idea of very old times. Why do they need such a country, which has a huge territory and the most serious nuclear shield, and which does not even obey the Americans?” said the former president.
Meanwhile, Russian law enforcement officials have opened up their own criminal investigation into the International Criminal Court, focusing on judges and prosecutors who made the decision to issue the arrest warrant for Putin.
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World at War
Xi To Arrive In Moscow Monday, Ukraine War ‘Core Part’ Of Talks With Putin
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has confirmed in a statement on its website that President Xi Jinping’s much anticipated state visit to Russia will be held from March 20-22, marking the first such in-person visit with President Putin since the Ukraine war started in February 2022.
The Kremlin at the same time confirmed of the trip that “An exchange of views is also planned in the context of deepening Russian-Chinese cooperation in the international arena,” and that, “A number of important bilateral documents will be signed.”
Russia has further said the two leaders will discuss “strategic cooperation” – following early last year’s declaration of Beijing and Moscow’s “no-limits partnership”.
The new Friday Beijing statement also said the war in Ukraine will be top priority, also after acknowledging that a Xi-Zelensky phone call will happen related to the Moscow visit:
China’s Foreign Ministry said the visit will take place from Monday to Wednesday at the invitation of Putin and confirmed that the war in Ukraine would be a core part of the talks.
“China’s proposition boils down to one sentence, which is to urge peace and promote talks,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.
And more on the few details made known thus far, to kick off Monday:
The two leaders will start Monday with a one-on-one followed by an “informal lunch,” with negotiations set to take place Tuesday, according to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.
This will be Xi’s first important trip abroad after the 69-year old earlier this month became the longest-serving head of state that Communist China has ever seen going back to 1949, and comes after he already broke precedent in gaining a third term as head of the Chinese Communist party last fall.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had been among the first world leaders to congratulate Xi on his third term, and hailed the two countries’ strategic partnership. “Dear friend, please accept sincere congratulations on the occasion of your reelection,” Putin said in a statement published by the Kremlin. “Russia highly values your personal contribution toward the strengthening of ties … and strategic cooperation between our nations,” he had said a week ago.
“I am certain that working together, we will ensure the development of fruitful Russian-Chinese cooperation in all sorts of different areas,” Putin wrote. “We will continue to coordinate joint work on the most important regional and international issues.”This post was originally published at Zero Hedge
World at War
Arrest Warrant Issued For President Putin By Hague-Based ICC
As part of the West’s attempt to ramp up the pressure on President Vladimir Putin, the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday issued an arrest warrant for the Russian leader. It’s a largely symbolic step, given detaining Putin remains entirely unenforceable, but is enough to create a firestorm of hyped and breathless headlines.
Another arrest warrant for a top official was announced simultaneously for Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova. The warrants for both Putin and Lvova-Belova allege severe human rights violations against children, and mark the first formal international charges brought by the ICC against Moscow.
The ICC said in a statement that Putin “is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”
According to Axios, it stems from allegations that “Russia systematically relocated at least 6,000 children from Ukraine to Russia since the start of the war” – based on findings by a group called Conflict Observatory and their report published in February.
“Many of the children, who were taken to camps or other facilities, engaged in pro-Russia reeducation efforts, per the report,” Axios details. “Some of the facilities were used for foster care or adoption in Russia and Crimea.”
But it remains that the warrants are largely merely symbolic. “The ICC is doing its part of work as a court of law,” ICC court president Piotr Hofmanski said. “The judges issued arrest warrants. The execution depends on international cooperation.”
Given the ICC doesn’t have a police force, any actual attempt to detain Putin would be the decision of a government, so needless to say it could not possibly be enforced. However, it does complicate Putin’s ability to travel to European or other capitals which cooperate with the ICC. This also means it could hinder peace efforts in the scenario Putin might choose to personally engage in negotiations or diplomacy in a European city.
The Kremlin responded quickly to the ICC warrants, with Dmitry Peskov stressing that Russia doesn’t recognize the international court, calling its decisions “legally void.” He blasted the attempt to go after the recognized head of state of Russia as “outrageous and unacceptable.”
Recent debate at the Hague-based ICC ahead of Friday’s announcement certainly put Washington in an awkward position, with Axios pointing out that “The New York Times reported earlier this month that the Pentagon was blocking the Biden administration from sharing U.S. intelligence with the ICC about Russian war crimes in Ukraine for fear that it could set a precedent for prosecuting Americans.”This post was originally published at Zero Hedge
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