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ISW: Russia charges Ukrainian officials with crimes in absentia as part of its efforts to insinuate that Ukraine should not exist

Russia charges Ukrainian military officials with crimes in absentia, demonstrating its refusal to recognize Ukraine’s sovereignty. It also placed NATO officials on wanted lists for “violating Russian laws” in their own countries, setting stage for potential aggression
Russia open to "truly serious" Ukraine peace proposals, Foreign Ministry says
The Kremlin in Moscow. Photo: Depositphotos
ISW: Russia charges Ukrainian officials with crimes in absentia as part of its efforts to insinuate that Ukraine should not exist

The US-based Institute for the Study of War reported on 18 June that the Russian government is charging Ukrainian servicemen and military officials with crimes in absentia as part of its efforts to enforce Russian federal law outside of its jurisdiction and insinuate that Ukraine should not exist as an independent state.

The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) placed former Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Pyotr Mekhed and former Deputy Chief of the Ukrainian General Staff Viktor Bokiy on Russia’s wanted list on 18 June. It charged them with unspecified war crimes in absentia.

According to ISW, the Russian Investigative Committee ruled on 17 June to detain a Ukrainian commander in absentia on charges that the commander helped down a Russian A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft in February 2024 — a legitimate act of war and a normal event for two warring states.

The report also reported that “The Russian MVD previously absurdly placed multiple officials from most NATO member countries on its western flank on Russia’s wanted list for violating various Russian laws while the officials were in their respective countries where Russian law has no jurisdiction.”

Russian officials similarly temporarily placed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Lieutenant General Oleksandr Pavlyuk, and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on its wanted list for allegedly violating Russian law while those officials were not in Russia.

ISW assessed that Russia’s decision to place Western officials on its wanted list for violating Russian federal laws outside of Russia is part of its effort to violate the sovereignty of NATO member states and justify possible future Russian aggression against NATO.

“The Kremlin’s prosecution of Ukrainian military personnel and political leadership who are engaged in a fully lawful, defensive war against an invasion by a foreign power in a manner akin to domestic terrorists highlights Russia’s enduring belief that the Ukrainian state does not and should not exist as a political entity separate from Russia,” ISW reported.

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