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Guardian: Russia accused of 'deliberate' starvation tactics in Mariupol in submission to ICC

by Kateryna Denisova and The Kyiv Independent news desk June 13, 2024 10:45 AM 3 min read
People walk down an avenue of Mariupol on April 12, 2022 as Russian troops intensified a campaign to take the strategic port city. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images)
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Russia used a "deliberate pattern" of starvation tactics during its three-month siege of the city of Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast, in early 2022, which could amount to war crime, according to a lawyers' analysis submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Guardian reported on June 13.

The report, submitted to the ICC by Global Rights Compliance lawyers working jointly with the Ukrainian government, says that Russia and its leaders intended to kill and harm large number of civilians.

The city came under siege by Russian forces between February and May 2022, leaving thousands dead and reducing Mariupol to rubble. According to authorities' rough estimates, at least 25,000 people could have been killed during the siege of Mariupol. The exact number remains unknown and could be much higher.

Catriona Murdoch, a partner at Global Rights Compliance, said that the purpose of the research was to "to see if there was a broader narrative" that the Russian military and its leadership deliberately denied food and other necessary services for life.

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Lawyers concluded that there were four phases to the Russian assault in Mariupol, Murdoch said, including attacks on civilian infrastructure, cutting out the supply of electricity, heating and water, refusal of humanitarian evacuation, and strikes on critical infrastructure.

"Finally, in phase four, Russia engaged in strategic attacks to destroy or capture any remaining infrastructure," she said

The phased attacks on the city demonstrated that Russia planned to capture Mariupol without mercy for its civilian population, according to Murdoch.

Given the importance of Mariupol and the centralization of decision-making in Russia, responsibility for the deaths of thousands of civilians lies upon the country's leadership, she said.

"(Russian President) Vladimir Putin is to blame, and so are echelons of the Russian military leadership," Murdoch added.

The ICC issued arrest warrants on March 17, 2023, for Putin and Russian Children's Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova for the forced deportations of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia.

The court also issued arrest warrants for two Russian military commanders a year later in March for carrying out strikes on Ukrainian electricity infrastructure during the winter of 2022–2023.

Lieutenant General Sergei Kobylash and Admiral Viktor Sokolov "are each allegedly responsible" for a number of war crimes, including "directing attacks at civilian sites," the ICC said.

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