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Kyiv Invites ICC To Probe For War Crimes In Eastern Ukraine

Ukraine has accepted the International Criminal Court's (ICC) jurisdiction to probe possible war crimes committed during Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said in a letter accepted by the Hague-based ICC that the court can investigate for the "purpose of identifying, prosecuting, and judging perpetrators and accomplices of [criminal] acts committed" in Ukraine since February 20, 2014.

But the ICC said in a statement that accepting the court's jurisdiction "does not automatically trigger an investigation."

Kyiv had previously given the ICC the right to probe alleged crimes committed between November 2013 and February 2014, when pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted after mass protests.

Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014 and fighting erupted in eastern Ukraine one month later between Russian-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces.

The UN says more than 7,900 people have been killed in the fighting.

The expanded ICC probe could consider allegations by Ukraine and several Western governments of Russia's direct involvement in the fighting in eastern Ukraine, something Moscow denies.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP