The Pentagon is blocking the Biden administration from sharing evidence of alleged Russian war crimes with the International Criminal Court based in the Hague over concerns that a precedent could be set for Americans to be prosecuted for their military actions, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
The US has a history of impeding the ICC’s efforts to investigate suspected war crimes committed by the US and its allies but has offered to help probe Russia’s war in Ukraine. Attorney General Merrick Garland visited Ukraine last week and pledged the Justice Department would help Ukrainians with investigations.
According to the Times, the rest of the Biden administration, including the State Department, Justice Department, and intelligence agencies, favor giving information to the ICC. In December, Congress modified restrictions on helping the court to facilitate the investigations into Russia’s military operations.
During the Trump administration, the US sanctioned the ICC for looking into the US war in Afghanistan. The Biden administration reversed the sanctions but expressed opposition to the Afghanistan probe and investigations into Israeli actions against Palestinians.
“We continue to disagree strongly with the ICC’s actions relating to the Afghanistan and Palestinian situations,” Blinken said when the sanctions were reversed in April 2021. “We believe, however, that our concerns about these cases would be better addressed through engagement with all stakeholders in the ICC process rather than through the imposition of sanctions.”
The US pressure without sanctions appeared to have worked as the ICC later announced it would resume its Afghanistan probe but would focus on alleged atrocities committed by the Taliban and ISIS-K, not the US.