Ex-Ukrainian Prosecutor Says He's Stockpiling Evidence of Russian War Crimes

Ukraine's former deputy prosecutor general announced on Friday that he will start gathering evidence for Russia's war crimes for potential future prosecution.

"[Russian] Aggression followed by numerous #war crimes against civilians. Criminals must be held accountable for each of them. Started to collect evidence with human rights activists," Gyunduz Mamedov tweeted as he referred to a few Ukrainian activists.

His remarks come after Russia invaded Ukraine following Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to launch a "special military operation" to "demilitarize and de-Nazify" the Eastern European country.

Shortly after Putin's announcement of the attack late Wednesday night, Ukrainian authorities reported missile strikes across the country, and Russian ground and air forces were seen moving into territories controlled by the government in Kyiv. Hundreds of casualties were reported after the first missile hit Ukraine, according to an Interior Ministry source.

The actions Putin has committed against Ukraine are described as a "crime of aggression", according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), with war crimes on Ukrainian territories falling within the jurisdiction of that court, according to The Conversation.

However, Putin can't stand trial before the ICC because both the perpetrator and victim of the aggression must be part of the Rome Statute—a treaty that formed the ICC. In this situation, Ukraine is a party while Russia isn't.

However, the Security Council can send Russia to court as a non-party despite the ICC lacking power over Russian crimes against Ukraine. However, Russia can veto this action because it is a member of the council, but still can be prosecuted for war crimes if evidence proves that they intentionally attacked civilians on Ukrainian territories.

Bellingcat, a Netherlands-based investigative online platform, is one group gathering and posting evidence of assaults including attacks on civilians. The platform has been reporting on its Twitter account incidents involving civilian casualties "attributed to Russian forces."

During a televised address on Thursday, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Russia is targeting him as its top enemy and is planning to kill him.

"The enemy marked me as target number one, and my family as target number two," he said.

A day before Zelenskyy's statement, the U.S. told the United Nations' Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet that Russia has created a hit list of "identified Ukrainians to be killed or sent to camps."

Zelenskyy said 137 Ukrainians were killed and 316 were wounded as they faced the Russian invasion. He also added that Ukraine took Russian prisoners of war and also shot down several Russian aircraft. He then asked his citizens to arm up against Russian attackers and offer medical assistance for those who are wounded.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. and its European allies will impose new sanctions against Russia that would target its largest banks, wealthy individuals, and isolate the country from the global economy.

"This is a dangerous moment for all of Europe," Biden said, adding that the decision to invade Ukraine represented "a sinister vision for the rest of the world. This was never about genuine security concerns on [Russia's] part. It was always about naked aggression."

For the latest updates on the conflict follow Newsweek's live blog.

Ukrainian Prosecutor collects Russian war crimes evidence
Former Ukrainian Deputy Prosecutor General Gyunduz Mamedov announced that he will start gathering evidence of Russian war crimes for potential future prosecution. Above, members of Manchester's Ukrainian community hold a vigil and show their solidarity for Ukraine at the Dnipro Ukrainian Social Club on February 25 in Manchester, England. Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images