Russia Criticizes ICC During FM Ashkenazi Visit

YERUSHALAYIM -
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (right) and his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi attend a news conference following their talks in Moscow, Wednesday. (Ministry/Handout via Reuters)

Israel received diplomatic support from Russia in its fight against an International Criminal Court probe of alleged Israeli war crimes during a visit to Moscow by Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi on Wednesday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Ashkenazi in a meeting that his country is “rather negative” about the ICC, in particular its recent decision to investigate Palestinian accusations of war crimes in the 2014 war in Gaza.

“The situation you mentioned is just one example. The court was established with a hope that it would be a professional, independent body, which would someday become universal. In practice, it proved otherwise. The ICC hasn’t lived up to the expectations,” according to The Jerusalem Post.

“More than once, it has proved politically motivated in its actions,” Lavrov said.

The Russian foreign minister accused the ICC of “trying to extend its authority and encroaching on areas that are not fit for it.”

Russia signed the Rome statute, which governs the ICC, in 2000 but never ratified the agreement to become a member.

The decision came after an ICC ruling that Russia’s activity in Crimea amounted to an “ongoing occupation.”

The court ruled Russia’s 2014 takeover of the Crimea peninsula had been an armed conflict between it and Ukraine. This would mean the annexation fell under the court’s jurisdiction, a position Moscow rejects.

On another issue, Ashkenazi thanked Russia for its efforts to recover the remains of Israelis in Syria:

“Thank you for your assistance concerning our humanitarian issues with soldiers and others,” Ashkenazi said. “It’s well-known in Israel that if there is a sensitive issue in our society, it’s this issue.”

Ashkenazi called the meeting “a great opportunity to thank Russia and your leadership on assisting in this issue.”

Russian soldiers are reportedly searching for legendary Israeli spy Eli Cohen’s remains.

But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the wording “contradicts reality”, while the foreign ministry called the court “one-sided and inefficient”.