Igor Salikov, who claims to have served 25 years in the Russian army and in the Vagner group, arrived in the Netherlands on Monday. He wants to testify before the International Criminal Court (ICC), based in The Hague, about alleged war crimes committed by Moscow during the war in Ukraine. The information was brought by the Dutch public television NPO1 and was also published by the news server Politico.
“I witnessed atrocities against civilians,” the 60-year-old said during the interview, adding that he had seen the torture and execution of prisoners of war and the abduction of children. “I’ve seen secret service people transfer large numbers of children without parents across the border into Belarus.”
Salikov said those who carried out these alleged war crimes did so on the orders of the Russian Ministry of Defense, but also on the direct orders of President Vladimir Putin’s office. Politico could not independently verify these claims, but they are corroborated by numerous reports of alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine.
In March, the International Criminal Court issued an international arrest warrant for Putin over the forced transfer of children to Russia following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In parallel, Kiev and several of its Western allies are pushing for the establishment of a tribunal to investigate Russia’s “crime of aggression” during the war.
Salikov went on to say that he escaped from Russian forces after refusing an order to execute civilians. Now he wants to report what he saw to the International Criminal Court because he “lost faith in the Russian cause.” He says he was in Ukraine when Kremlin forces invaded eastern Donbass in 2014, when he witnessed similar acts, with “civilians being threatened and murdered.”