The Russian invasion of Ukraine was being monitored for crimes against humanity. A formal investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) could result, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan warned on February 25.

"All parties to the conflict must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law," Khan said in a statement posted on the ICC website. While working in Bangladesh, the prosecutor said he had been monitoring "recent developments in and around Ukraine with increasing concern."

No investigation of 'aggression'

The A.P. recalled that Russia had been publicly accused of "aggression" by U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Although a U.N. ban on "the crime of aggression" had taken effect in 2018, aggression "in this situation" could not be investigated by the ICC because neither Russia nor Ukraine had signed the relevant U.N. treaty, Khan said.

Ukraine accepts ICC authority.

After Russia's 2014 seizure of Crimea, Ukraine had recognized the ICC's authority to investigate and prosecute crimes against humanity committed on its territory, Reuters recalled.

However, Khan noted that his office could still "exercise its jurisdiction over and investigate any act of genocide, crime against humanity or war crime committed within the territory of Ukraine from February 20, 2014, onwards." In addition, the prosecutor stressed he would look into crimes committed by either side in the War in Ukraine.

Reuters said that the prosecutor could carry out a preliminary probe into accusations, but he could not open a full investigation until receiving authorization from the court. After returning to The Hague, Khan would "issue a more detailed statement regarding the Situation in Ukraine, providing clarity on my assessment and the next steps I envisage," he said.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch decry Russian actions

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have taken to Twitter to condemn Russian actions in Ukraine. In a February 24 post, Amnesty International said it had verified a missile attack against a hospital in the Ukrainian city of Vuhledar.

The attack had killed two civilians, the organization said. In a separate post that same day, the organization said it had confirmed that Russian bombs had done "damage to a residential block near Chuhuiv Air Base in Ukraine, killing a civilian and injuring another."

The next day, Amnesty International tweeted, "Russia's claims to use precision-guided weapons in Ukraine are patently false.

Instead, the Russian military has shown a blatant disregard for civilian lives by using ballistic missiles and other explosive weapons with wide-area effects in densely populated areas."

One day after the post about the attack on a hospital in Vuhledar, HRW posted a similar Tweet about an attack on a hospital in a Ukrainian city. A report on the HRW website identified the hospital as the Central City Hospital. The organization said the area had been hit by "a 9M79-series Tochka ballistic missile with a 9N123 cluster munition warhead." The missile killed four civilians, and ten more were injured, HRW said.