ICC prosecutor sees Crimea annexation as intl armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia
The annexation of the Crimean peninsula by Russia is equivalent to an international armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia, according to the Secretariat of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The relevant information can be found in a report, which was published on the ICC website on November 14 and which contains preliminary examination of activities in 2016, in a section dedicated to the situation in Ukraine, which includes more than 20 complaints in relation to crimes committed in the period from November 2013 to February 2014, and more than 48 complaints concerning crimes committed after February 20, 2014 in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
"The information available suggests that the situation within the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol amounts to an international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. This international armed conflict began at the latest on 26 February when the Russian Federation deployed members of its armed forces to gain control over parts of the Ukrainian territory without the consent of the Ukrainian Government," reads a section of the report entitled "Events in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine from 20 February 2014 onwards."
According to the report of the International Criminal Court, the law of international armed conflict would continue to apply after March 18, 2014 to the extent that the situation within the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol factually amounts to an on-going state of occupation.
"A determination of whether or not the initial intervention which led to the occupation is considered lawful or not is not required," the document reads.
For purposes of the Rome Statute an armed conflict may be international in nature if 36 one or more states partially or totally occupy the territory of another state, whether or not the occupation meets with armed resistance, the report says.
The ICC Office said it will continue to engage with the Ukrainian authorities, civil society and other relevant stakeholders, such as the Russian Federation, on all matters relevant to the preliminary examination of the situation in Ukraine.
"The Office continues its detailed factual analysis of the alleged crimes on the basis of its preliminary assessment of the existence of armed conflicts in both regions with a view to identifying potential cases within the jurisdiction of the Court," the document reads.