How Putin Could Be Charged With War Crimes

Pressure mounts on Russias Vladimir Putin as he faces the potential of being charged with war crimes.

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Pressure mounts on Russia’s Vladimir Putin as he faces the potential of being charged with war crimes.

Franc Romanowski, Contributor

Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, started the war on Ukraine February 24, 2022 and since then, the Russian Military has produced horrendous sites that no human eye should ever have to witness.


The Russian troops stationed in Ukraine are believed to have committed many atrocious acts against Ukraine with Putin now being accused by many of committing war crimes.


President of the United States, Joe Biden, has joined many others who have called Putin a “war criminal”, but what are war crimes and how can Putin be tried for potentially violating international laws?


War crimes are defined as a violation of the laws governing international/non-international conflict where the person being accused is believed to willfully commit crimes against humanity during a time of war. For more on war crimes and how someone can violate them, see this link:


Russia has appeared to commit numerous actions that violate international war laws. Some attacks that might be considered war crimes include targeting civilian areas, civilians, hospitals and places of shelter, just to name a few.


 “Civilians are being killed and maimed in what appear to be indiscriminate attacks, with Russian forces using explosive weapons with wide effects in or near populated areas,” OHCHR (Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) spokesperson Liz Throssell said.


In many past conflicts, war crimes have been committed and punished.


One of the most recent people that has been convicted as a war criminal is Anwar Raslan.


Raslan, a former Syrian military officer, was accused of crimes against humanity, charged with 4,000 counts of torture, 58 counts of murder and charges of sexual assault during the al-Asssad regime. He was sentenced to life in prison on January 13, 2022 for all charges except 31 counts of murder.


War criminals can have a wide range of punishments that range from a few years, to life in prison. Some may even get the death penalty, but punishments are all dependent on how severe the war crimes were.


Multiple investigations are ongoing to determine if Vladimir Putin, his associates and the Russian military did commit war crimes. Putin continues to deny claims that he is a war criminal.


 If Putin is charged with war crimes, there are many ways in which he could be prosecuted.


One of those ways is through the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC is a court that tries people that have broken serious international laws including: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and aggression.


There are limits to what the court has the power to do. 


For instance, the court cannot investigate Russia for the crime of aggression because Russia is not part of the ICC. The court also cannot hold a trial against Putin until he is in the courtroom and they have no power to bring him to court if he stays in Russia.


“There would be no trial at the ICC of Putin until he is physically present in the courtroom,” said David Scheffler, first ever U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues and led the U.S. into talks about establishing the ICC.


There are other ways that could allow Putin to be charged as a war criminal including having other countries prosecute him or setting up a special tribunal similar to the Nuremberg Tribunal, that was used to prosecute Nazi war criminals after WWII.


Many have supported the idea of a special tribunal and, if one is set up, it can solve a key problem that would make prosecuting Putin difficult within the ICC. It can allow Putin to be prosecuted for aggression, even if he stays in Russia. 


The war in Ukraine continues to rage on as questions mount over whether Vladimir Putin will be charged with any of the war crimes that he is accused of committing.


Only time can tell the fate of the Russian leader and the future of what humanity has to hold.