The Chinese Foreign Ministry did not respond to requests for comment. The Kremlin said it had nothing to announce yet.
On the battlefront, Ukrainian soldiers said they were repelling attacks near Kreminna, north of Bakhmut.
In a forest some 8 kilometres from the front, cannons boomed, targeting enemy positions to the north-east. Explosions rumbled constantly in the distance.
“Two or three weeks ago the fighting was at its peak but it has calmed down a bit,” said Mykhailo Anest, a 35-year-old medic. “There is a lot of artillery and mortar fire.”
Trench warfare, described by both sides as a meat grinder, has claimed a huge toll in Bakhmut, in Donetsk, with both sides reporting hundreds of enemy troops have been killed.
Russia says taking Bakhmut would open a path to capture all of Donetsk, a central war aim. Ukraine, which has decided to defend Bakhmut rather than withdraw, says wearing out the Russian military now will help its counter-offensive later.
But not every military analyst is convinced that defending Bakhmut is the best strategy for Ukraine.
“As of now we have information that Ukraine is sending reserves to Bakhmut that underwent training in Western countries. And we are suffering losses among reserves that we intended to use for counter-offensives,” Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said.
“We could lose here everything we wanted to use for those counter-offensives.”
Ukrainian military historian Roman Ponomarenko said the threat of encirclement was “very real”.
“If we simply give up Bakhmut and withdraw our troops and equipment, nothing terrible can happen … if they seal the ring, we will lose men and equipment,” he told Ukrainian radio NV.
The ICC prosecutor’s office declined to comment. Russia’s Defence Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
Konstantin Kosachyov, deputy speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, said the ICC had no jurisdiction over Russia since it withdrew its backing in 2016.
“The ICC is an instrument of neo-colonialism in the hands of the West,” he said.
Russia has pushed back against previous accusations that it had forcibly moved Ukrainians.
But it has not concealed a programme under which it has taken thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia, but presents it as a humanitarian campaign to protect orphans and children abandoned in the conflict zone.
Ukraine says thousands of deported Ukrainian children are being adopted into Russian families, housed in camps and orphanages, given Russian passports and brought up to reject Ukrainian nationality.
The UN genocide convention defines “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group” as one of five acts that can be prosecuted as genocide.
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