PROXIMATE TO KREMINNA, UKRAINE: Moscow is intensifying a winter campaign to capture the small eastern city of Bakhmut, and both sides have described relentless battles, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.


According to Reuters, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is planning to seek the arrest of Russian officials for forcibly deporting children from Ukraine and targeting civilian infrastructure in what would be the first international war crimes cases arising from Russia’s invasion.

It’s safe to assume that any arrest warrants issued against Russian officials would be immediately dismissed by Moscow. However, Moscow could face greater diplomatic isolation if it is accused of committing war crimes in connection with a campaign that has resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians and the bloodiest fighting in Europe since World War II.

For months, Russia has focused its assault on Bakhmut, where fierce infantry battles have cost both sides dearly. Wagner’s private Russian army has taken control of the city’s eastern outskirts, but they have been unable to encircle the city proper.

Late on Monday, Zelensky delivered a video address in which he claimed that the fate of Ukraine rested on the events unfolding in Bakhmut and the surrounding war zones in the country’s eastern Donetsk region.
“Life is incredibly challenging and painful in the east. It is imperative that we eliminate the military potential of our enemies. And we’ll wipe it out,” Zelensky pledged.
Russia claims that if they can take Bakhmut, they will be able to easily capture the rest of Donetsk, which is a major objective of their war. The Ukrainian military claims it has remained in Bakhmut because it is dealing heavy casualties to the Russian assault force, making a counterattack later this year more feasible.

Ukrainian soldiers reported on Monday that they were repelling increased attacks near Kreminna, north of Bakhmut.

Cannons boomed from a forest 8 kilometers (5 miles) behind the front, firing at enemy strongholds to the northeast. Constant distant explosions indicated intense conflict.
Reporters from Reuters saw a soldier with a badly wounded leg being evacuated from the front. A splint and painkillers were administered to him in the van before he was taken to a medical facility farther back.

Mykhailo Anest, a 35-year-old doctor, has observed that the fighting has subsided somewhat since its height two or three weeks ago. Artillery and mortars are firing heavily.

During Russia’s over a year-long invasion of Ukraine, Kiev and its Western allies have accused Moscow of committing “crimes against humanity” by attacking civilians and civilian infrastructure.

A source familiar with the situation has stated that “in the short term,” the ICC will seek its first warrants against Russian officials related to the conflict. The ICC opened an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine last year.
The source did not specify which Russian officials the prosecutor might seek warrants against or when they might arrive, but did mention that genocide was a possible charge.

As for a response, the ICC prosecutor’s office was uninterested. When asked for comment, the Russian Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond.

Since Moscow withdrew its support in 2016, the ICC has no jurisdiction over Russia, according to Konstantin Kosachyov, deputy speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament.
“The International Criminal Court is an instrument of neo-colonialism in the hands of the West,” he declared.
Russia claims that it is not attacking civilian infrastructure in Ukraine and that all of its strikes are aimed at weakening Kyiv’s military. It is not hiding the fact that it has

transported thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia under a program ostensibly designed to save the lives of kids who were orphaned or abandoned in the conflict zone.

According to Kyiv, thousands of deported Ukrainian children are being adopted by Russian families, housed in Russian camps and orphanages, given Russian passports, and taught to reject their Ukrainian heritage.

Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group is one of five acts that can be prosecuted as genocide according to the United Nations genocide convention.

Despite the ongoing fighting in Bakhmut, Moscow may soon see a long-awaited diplomatic breakthrough: according to Reuters, President Xi Jinping of China may visit Russia as soon as next week.

Requests for comment from the Chinese foreign ministry were ignored. Nothing new to report, according to the Kremlin.

Even though Russian President Vladimir Putin has hailed such a visit as a show of support, it may be overshadowed by Xi Jinping’s potential decision to speak with Zelensky via video link for the first time since the invasion.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Zelensky and Xi were going to meet. Ukrainian presidential administration also did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment on these claims.