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ICC investigates whether Russian cyber attacks on Ukraine's infrastructure are war crimes

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is currently evaluating whether or not Russian cyber attacks targeting civilian infrastructure in Ukraine could be classed as war crimes.

user icon Daniel Croft
Mon, 17 Jun 2024
ICC investigates whether Russian cyber attacks on Ukraine's infrastructure are war crimes
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Last year, the ICC ruled that it would investigate and prosecute war crimes the same as kinetic war crimes, largely in response to the conflict in Ukraine.

Now, sources speaking to Reuters have revealed that prosecutors at the ICC are currently investigating whether cyber attacks targeting Ukrainian civilians are classed as war crimes.

The investigation is looking into attacks on critical infrastructure such as power and water, preventing civilians from access to basic amenities needed to survive, such as water for cooking and drinking and power for heat in the harsh winters.


Four major cyber attacks on energy infrastructure are under investigation, according to two of the sources.

While sources speaking with Reuters are saying that the attacks under investigation go back to the Russian invasion in February 2022, two other sources confirmed that the investigations could look back as far as 2015, the year that followed Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

Ukraine is looking to support the investigation, collecting its own evidence.

If the investigation determines that the attacks are war crimes, it could lead to arrests being made, a world first for cyber warfare.

The ICC has its eye closely on a Russian group called “Sandworm”, which is believed to have connections to Russian military intelligence, according to cyber experts and Ukrainian officials.

The group has been in operation for some time, best known for an attack on NotPetya in 2017, targeting Ukrainian computer systems and disrupting the nation’s power grid, leaving hundreds of thousands of residents without electricity during the depths of winter.

In 2022, the US offered a $10 million bounty for information on the group.

While the ICC has not provided comment on the matter, it has issued four arrest warrants since the invasion started, including for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In addition, an arrest warrant was placed for two Russian commanders for attacks on civilian infrastructure.

Despite the warrants, Russia rejects the warrants as “corruption by law”. Neither it nor Ukraine are signatories to the ICC; however, the latter has granted the court jurisdiction.

Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft

Born in the heart of Western Sydney, Daniel Croft is a passionate journalist with an understanding for and experience writing in the technology space. Having studied at Macquarie University, he joined Momentum Media in 2022, writing across a number of publications including Australian Aviation, Cyber Security Connect and Defence Connect. Outside of writing, Daniel has a keen interest in music, and spends his time playing in bands around Sydney.

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