Russia withdrew from the International Criminal Court Wednesday, the day after it likely helped destroy a children’s hospital in Syria.
“The court did not live up to the hopes associated with it and did not become truly independent,” Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement announcing the move. The withdrawal is ostensibly tied to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine, but comes amid numerous other war crimes accusations.
Russia signed the founding statute of the ICC in 2000, which is set up to investigate war crimes accusations, but never ratified the agreement. Russia’s indiscriminate bombing campaign against civilians in Syria, has prompted numerous war crimes accusations from the U.S. “What Russia is sponsoring and doing is not counter-terrorism. It is barbarism,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said at a U.N. Security Council meeting in September.
Power’s accusations came after a U.N. humanitarian aid convoy was repeatedly bombed by Russian or Syrian planes. The White House issued a statement holding Russia responsible, and the move was widely condemned at the U.N. General Assembly.
After a three week lull in the bombing campaign, Russia and Syria began major operations against the city of Aleppo. Russia deployed its major aircraft carrier and warships to the Mediterranean sea to assist in the operations, which includes using cruise missiles and bunker busting bombs. One of the highest profile Tuesday strikes occurred at a children’s hospital in Aleppo.
Most of the hospital was badly damaged, according to eyewitness accounts obtained by The Washington Post. The adjoining children’s blood bank was also destroyed. Russia and the Syrian regime frequently target hospitals and other aid stations in rebel-held areas, to make civilian life in the area as miserable as possible.
Russia’s air campaign comes as the Syrian-Arab Army and its Iranian allies launch an all-out ground assault on the rebel held area of the city. Aleppo has remained in rebel hands for nearly five years, and a rebel coalition of approximately 100,000 fighters launched their own counter-offensive Nov. 8.
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