According to Western diplomats and officials, the Red Cross has made a confidential legal assessment that Ukraine is officially in a war. Such statement would open the door to possible war crimes prosecutions, including over the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH-17.
“Clearly it’s an international conflict and therefore this is most probably a war crime,” one Western diplomat said in Geneva.
The Red Cross has not made any public statement – seeking not to offend either Ukraine or Russia by calling it a civil war or a case of foreign aggression – but it has done so privately and informed the parties to the conflict.
“The qualification has been shared bilaterally and confidentially. We do not discuss it publicly”, said Anastasia Isyuk, the Red Cross spokeswoman.
The designation as a war – either international or civil – changes the situation as it turns both sides into combatants with equal liability for war crimes, which have no statute of limitations and cannot be absolved by an amnesty. Continue reading