27.7 C
Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Putin’s Statements on Wagner Group May Impact War Crimes Charges, Experts Say

Putin had claimed that the Russian government fully funded the mercenaries

Must read

RUSSIA: International law experts are suggesting that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent efforts to distance the Russian state from the Wagner Group may inadvertently expose him and the Russian government to charges of war crimes committed by the mercenary fighters.

Putin had claimed that the Russian government fully funded the mercenaries, with over $1 billion allocated from the state budget in May 2023.

- Advertisement -

Philippe Sands KC, a law professor at UCL and renowned author of “East West Street,” has issued a warning regarding the potential consequences of the language used by Putin.

According to Sands, the statements could potentially lead to the Russian state being held accountable for the actions of both Wagner and Putin.

- Advertisement -

As international accusations of war crimes mounted against the Wagner Group, President Putin maintained a certain distance from the private military company, which was established in 2014.

Russia consistently denied any direct control over Wagner forces, even during a 2018 conflict with US forces in Syria. Furthermore, a Kremlin spokeswoman asserted that no private military firms were operating within Russia’s borders.

- Advertisement -

Dapo Akande, a professor of public international law at Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, argues that merely providing financial support to Wagner does not automatically render Putin or Russia legally liable for the alleged crimes.

Akande acknowledges that funding alone is insufficient to prove an international crime and emphasizes that disentangling these issues from Russia’s involvement can be a challenging task.

In the pursuit of justice for atrocities committed by Russian forces in Ukraine, Ukrainian authorities and human rights organizations have mobilized to gather evidence for potential legal action.

However, attributing Wagner’s atrocities to the Russian government itself may prove more difficult than holding individual enlisted soldiers accountable. While paramilitaries have been found guilty of war crimes, the linked state has not been directly implicated in such actions.

A precedent in this regard is the international court’s ruling on Serbia’s responsibility for failing to prevent the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, where paramilitary groups were involved, but the court could not establish direct control by Serbian authorities. Media reports in Belgrade claiming innocence followed the court’s decision.

Philippe Sands highlights that Putin’s statements may influence future verdicts in cases involving Wagner’s alleged crimes, while Professor Gerry Simpson predicts that the international legal community may grapple with issues of accountability in a world where militias and private military corporations play a more prominent role.

The complexities of attributing specific acts to responsible parties become even more challenging amid the fog of war.

As courts face the task of untangling responsibility in these delicate political and military situations, the question arises whether they should play a role in adjudicating such matters.

The ramifications of these developments will undoubtedly become more significant as state fragmentation and the involvement of private military entities continue to increase on the international stage.

Also Read: Suspected Russian Spy to Face Charges in Connection with Fatal Attack in Kramatorsk


- Advertisement -


- Advertisement -

Trending Today