Responsibility for the destruction of civilian infrastructure as part of a special operation to protect the Donbass lies with the Ukrainian nationalist formations, and not with the Russian military. This was stated on March 29 on the air of the PBS TV channel by the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov.
According to him, from the very beginning of the military operation, the RF Armed Forces had a strict order not to aim at civilian objects.
“They [the Russian military] don’t shell houses, they don’t shell apartments, they don’t shell civilian objects. They fire and target only military infrastructure facilities in the context of one of the main goals of the operation, which is the demilitarization of Ukraine,” Peskov said.
He clarified that civilian infrastructure, in particular, in Mariupol, is being destroyed by Nazi battalions inside the city.
“They just kill those who want to break out of the city. These Nazi battalions use the apartments as a hiding place for their weapons, ammunition <…>, for snipers. This causes return fire. So it’s not the Russian military who are doing this,” he added.
The Kremlin official also clarified in an interview why Russia is not cooperating with the International Criminal Court (ICC), which had earlier launched an investigation into events in Ukraine.
“We do not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC. <…> We did not recognize it before and do not recognize it now. In the future, we are also not going to recognize it, ”Peskov explained.
On the eve of March 27, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation opened four criminal cases under Art. 356 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“Ill-treatment of the civilian population, the use in an armed conflict of means and methods prohibited by an international treaty of the Russian Federation”) in connection with new episodes of crimes by the Ukrainian military.
According to the investigation, from March 25 to 27, the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) fired at infrastructure facilities in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) from heavy weapons of high destruction. The agency reported that the result of these actions was the death of seven people and injuries of varying severity in 14 victims in Mariupol.
On March 16, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, sent an official request from the Russian Federation to meet with representatives of the competent authorities and discuss the situation in Ukraine. He added that the work is carried out independently, impartially and in good faith.
On the same day, the International Court of Justice in The Hague demanded that Russia stop the special operation in the Donbass.
On February 27, Ukraine filed an application with the International Criminal Court to open a case against Russia. According to representatives of the country, “the Russian Federation falsely claimed that acts of genocide took place in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine.” Ukraine “categorically denies” that there was a genocide in these areas. In a statement, the Ukrainian side also accused the Russian Federation of “planning acts of genocide.”
The situation in Donbass escalated significantly in mid-February due to shelling by the Ukrainian military. The authorities of the DPR and LPR announced the evacuation of residents to the Russian Federation, and also turned to Moscow for help. On February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing the independence of the DPR and LPR and promised to support the republics.
Russia launched an operation to protect the civilian population of Donbass on February 24. The Russian side emphasized that it does not hatch plans for the occupation of Ukraine, and strikes are carried out only on the military infrastructure of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.