Ukraine plans International Court to put Putin on trial

Six months into Russia’s invasion, Ukrainian officials are drawing up plans to make sure Russian President Vladimir Putin and his top military commanders will be tried for launching the war.


The plan for a special international tribunal to investigate Russia’s alleged “crime of aggression” is being spearheaded by Andrii Smirnov, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential administration.


The definition of the crime of aggression was adopted in the 2010 Rome Statute, and a similar notion of “crime against peace” was used in trials in Nuremberg and Tokyo after the Second World War.


The International Criminal Court, which has been trying the gravest crimes for the past 20 years, is already investigating war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Ukraine.


But it cannot look into accusations of aggression because neither Ukraine nor Russia have ratified the Rome Statute.


This court is “the only way to make sure that the criminals who started the Ukraine war are held accountable quickly,” Smirnov told AFP.

Ukraine plans International Court to put Putin on trial
Ukraine plans International Court to put Putin on trial

“The world has a short memory. That’s why I would like this tribunal to start working next year.”


Ukraine knows that the accused will not be present, but this tribunal “will serve to make sure that these people are labelled as criminals and that they cannot travel in the civilized world,” he said.


Ukrainian prosecutors have identified some 600 suspects in the aggression so far, including senior military officials, politicians and commentators.


An international treaty to set up the tribunal has been drafted, ready to be signed by governments.


The court’s decisions would then be recognised on the territory of the signatory countries, which means that any convicted offenders could be arrested there.


Smirnov said several countries are set to sign the document before the end of the year and negotiations are ongoing with “several European partners (who) are willing to host the tribunal.”


“We want this court’s decisions to be recognised,” he said, arguing he “perfectly understands” that the court needs strong legitimacy.

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Despite several reforms, Ukraine courts have been criticised for lack of independence and corruption in the past.


While Poland and the Baltic states — Ukraine’s closest partners — have been very supportive of the proposals, Germany and France have given more measured reactions.


Political considerations may explain this, the Guardian reports.


“Some countries, while acknowledging the aggression against Ukraine, are trying to keep a small window for negotiations with Vladimir Putin open,” Smirnov said.


But, even in Western Europe, support is slowly building for the idea.


The European Parliament called for a special international tribunal for crimes of aggression on May 19.


And, speaking at an international conference on war crimes in Ukraine in The Hague last month, Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said the question of a special court was a “very valid point”.


Moreover, the United States President Joe Biden has announced nearly $3 billion in new military aid for Ukraine to coincide with the country’s Independence Day celebrations.

Ukraine plans International Court to put Putin on trial

Biden, in a statement on Wednesday, said, “I know this Independence Day is bittersweet for many Ukrainians as thousands have been killed or wounded, millions have been displaced from their homes, and so many others have fallen victim to Russian atrocities and attacks.


“But six months of relentless attacks have only strengthened Ukrainians’ pride in themselves, in their country, and in their 31 years of independence.”


Mentioning it as “the biggest tranche of security assistance to date,” the White House said it would give Ukraine $2.98billion of weapons and equipment.


It said, “This will allow Ukraine to acquire air defence systems, artillery systems and munitions, counter-unmanned aerial systems, and radars to ensure it can continue to defend itself over the long term.”


Ukraine was celebrating both its national day and also marking the six months since Russia launched its invasion.


In a video message distributed to mark the occasion, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated his position that Kiev wouldn’t cede territory to the Russian forces.


“For us, Ukraine is the whole of Ukraine,” he said, insisting that this included Donbass, the Crimean peninsula and all regions under Russian occupation.


“We will fight until the end,” Zelensky said in the emotional speech recorded on Kiev’s Independence Square, where destroyed Russian military equipment, including tanks, could be seen.”


Meanwhile, an alleged Russian strike on a Ukrainian railway station has been confirmed to have killed 22 people.


Earlier on, before the number of deaths was recorded to be 22, Zelensky said “I have just received information about a Russian missile strike on a railway station in the (central) Dnipropetrovsk region… At least 15 people were killed and around 50 injured,” Zelensky said in a speech to the UN Security Council.


Zelensky said the strike was “right on the wagons at Chaplino station. Four passenger cars are on fire”.

Ukraine plans International Court to put Putin on trial

“Rescuers are working on the spot, but the death toll may rise, unfortunately. This is our daily life,” Zelensky said.


The strike comes as Ukraine marks Independence Day, commemorating its separation from the Soviet Union in 1991.


It also comes as the country enters its seventh month of war against Russia, launched on February 24.


While most fighting is now taking place in eastern and southern Ukraine, where neither side appears to be making progress, Russia regularly strikes Ukrainian cities with long-range missiles, according to Kyiv.

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