Man Claiming To Be Russian Defector Offers War Crimes To ICC

A Russian national claiming to be a former officer with the Wagner mercenary group arrived in the Netherlands on December 18 claiming to have evidence for the International Criminal Court’s investigation of Russian war crimes in Ukraine, the Associated Press reported.

The Dutch news program EenVandaag spoke via video link with Russian Igor Salikov, who has reportedly applied for asylum in the Netherlands.

Salikov told EenVandaag that in 2014, he was in eastern Ukraine both when Russia annexed Crimea and during the February 2022 Russian invasion. He claimed to know “where the orders came from.”

However, Salikov’s claims could not be verified independently by the Associated Press.

Ukraine’s war crimes prosecutor Yurii Belousov told Reuters that Salikov had been in contact with prosecutors in Kyiv for six months and has provided “important testimony” about the Russian invasion, some of which has already been confirmed.

Salikov, 60, told EenVandaag that he fought with the Russian separatist group in Donetsk since 2014 and served as a Wanger group instructor in Ukraine. He said that he witnessed Russian “cruelties against civilians” and was prepared to fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court’s investigation.

Reuters also reported that it could not independently verify Salikov’s claim of having served with the Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine.

The prosecutor for the International Criminal Court confirmed on December 19 that Salikov had provided investigators with information but would not comment further given the “confidentiality” of the court’s activities.

Salikov also claimed to have information about the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014 by a Russian BUK TELAR missile.

Last year, a Dutch court convicted a Ukrainian and two Russians for their role in shooting down the Malaysian flight bound for the Netherlands.

Earlier this year, a multinational investigation into the downing of Flight MH17 found “strong indications” that Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the transfer of the Buk TELAR missile system to the separatists in eastern Ukraine responsible. However, the eight-and-a-half-year investigation closed down without sufficient evidence to prosecute Putin or any other individuals.