Russia seeks extradition of Ukraine security service head; Ukraine rejects demand

"Ukraine's violation of its obligations under anti-terrorist conventions will result in it being held to account in international legal terms," says Russian statement

Reuters
Published : 1 April 2024, 01:44 AM
Updated : 1 April 2024, 01:44 AM

Russia is demanding that Ukraine hand over all people connected with terrorist acts committed in Russia, including the head of the country's SBU Security Service, the foreign ministry said on Sunday.

The SBU immediately dismissed the Russian demand as "pointless" and said the Russian ministry had "forgotten" that Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin was the subject of an international arrest warrant.

A Russian Foreign Ministry statement listed violent incidents that have occurred in Russia since the Kremlin's forces invaded Ukraine in February 2022, including bombings that killed the daughter of a prominent nationalist and a war blogger, and an incident in which a writer was seriously hurt.

The ministry said investigation of these incidents showed that "the traces of these crimes lead to Ukraine."

"Russia has turned over to Ukrainian authorities its demands ... for the immediate arrest and extradition of all those connected to the terrorist acts in question," the statement said.

Among those listed in the statement to be handed over are SBU head Vasyl Maliuk, who has acknowledged his service was behind attacks on the bridge linking Crimea to the Russian mainland since the Kremlin's February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Russia seized control of Crimea in 2014; the bridge was built after the region was annexed.

"The Russian side demands that the Kyiv regime immediately cease all support for terrorist activity, extradite guilty parties and compensate the victims for damages," the ministry statement said.

"Ukraine's violation of its obligations under anti-terrorist conventions will result in it being held to account in international legal terms."

'POINTLESS, CYNICAL"

Ukraine's SBU said the Russian demands "sound particularly cynical coming from the terrorist state itself. ... Therefore, any words from the Russian Foreign Ministry are pointless."

The SBU referred to the arrest warrant against Putin issued by the International Criminal Court in connection with the transfer of Ukrainian children to Russia and said "the tribunal in The Hague is waiting for him."

The Russian statement referred to the mass shooting this month at a concert hall outside Moscow in which 144 people died, but only in an oblique sense.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, and US officials said they had intelligence showing it was carried out by the network's Afghan branch, Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K.

Russian investigators said last week they had found proof that the concert hall gunmen were linked to "Ukrainian nationalists." Kyiv denies any connection with the attack.

Russian news agencies on Sunday quoted Alexander Bastrykin, the head of Russia's Investigative Committee, the country's most important criminal investigation body, as saying that work was proceeding to determine who was behind the attack.