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U.S. President Joe Biden has ordered the government to hand over evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, the New York Times reported on July 26.
Unnamed officials with knowledge of the matter told the Times about Biden's decision, which has not been publicly announced.
The decision is a reversal of White House policy. The U.S. Defense Department has argued against cooperation with the ICC, claiming it could set a precedent for The Hague to prosecute American soldiers, the Times reports.
According to the Times' sources, U.S. intelligence agencies have collected evidence that the Russian military deliberately attacked civilian infrastructure and deported thousands of Ukrainian children from Russian-occuped territories.
In March 2023, the ICC issued arrest warrants for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and Kremlin official Maria Lvova-Belova, who allegedly oversaw the forced deportations of children. In response, Russian officials threatened missile strikes against The Hague.
Speaking at The Hague on May 4, 2023, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Putin "deserves to be convicted of criminal acts."
According to the Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine, Russian forces have perpetrated over 80,000 war crimes in Ukraine since Febrary 2022. Although the U.S. has shared some of the details of Russian war crimes with Ukrainian prosecutors, it has not previously shared those findings with The Hague.
Now, following Biden's new orders, the U.S. will cooperate directly with the ICC.
"It's too bad they are not announcing that publicly, because it's the right thing to do," John Bellinger, former U.S. National Security Council lawyer, told the Times.