IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Biden orders U.S. to share evidence of Russian war crimes with International Criminal Court

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin in March, accusing him of being responsible for war crimes in Ukraine.
Image: Joe Biden
President Joe Biden leaves Holy Trinity Catholic Church in the Georgetown section of Washington on Sunday. Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has ordered the U.S. government to start sharing information about possible Russian war crimes in Ukraine with the International Criminal Court, a U.S. official familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

The decision, which was made in recent days and first reported by The New York Times, overrides months of resistance by the Defense Department.

Biden has said Russian President Vladimir Putin has “clearly committed war crimes.”

The U.S. is not a member of the ICC, and the Pentagon had blocked efforts to share evidence of war crimes. The Pentagon has had concerns that by working with the ICC, the U.S. could open the door to the prosecution of U.S. troops deployed abroad.

The ICC, headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands, has investigated allegations that U.S. forces and the CIA committed war crimes in Afghanistan.

A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said in a statement Wednesday that the U.S. supports a "range of international investigations" to hold perpetrators responsible, including through the ICC, the Ukraine prosecutor general’s office and the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission.

"On the ICC specifically, we are not going to discuss the specifics on any cooperation, which is consistent with the Court’s practice of treating requests for cooperation in a confidential manner," the spokesperson said. "More broadly, we will keep working with Ukraine and other countries to expose the war crimes and atrocities that Russian forces and officials are committing for the world to see."

The U.S. has deployed international investigators and prosecutors to help the Ukraine prosecutor general’s office prepare war crimes cases, the spokesperson said.

In September, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin signed a memorandum of understanding for closer collaboration in identifying and prosecuting perpetrators of war crimes in Ukraine.

In March, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Putin, a move that Biden said was "justified." It said Putin was responsible for illegally transferring children from Ukraine to Russia.

Putin’s press secretary, Dmitriy Peskov, said at the time: “We do not recognize this court. We do not recognize the jurisdiction of this court. This is how we treat this.”