EU proposes UN-backed specialized court to probe alleged Russian war crimes

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen seen in this file photo.
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BRUSSELS — The European Union says it will work to set up a UN-backed specialized court to investigate possible war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated on Wednesday that the bloc would work with the international community to get “the broadest international support possible” for the tribunal.

The EU would also continue to support the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC), she added in a video on Twitter.

Ukraine has been pushing for the creation of a special court to prosecute Russian military and political leaders over the war and the EU proposal was welcomed by the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff.

On Tuesday, G7 justice ministers also agreed to set up a network to coordinate investigations into war crimes in Ukraine.

Russian forces have been accused of various war crimes in Ukraine since invading on Feb. 24. Moscow has always denied the allegations.

The Hague-based ICC has already launched probes into the mass killing of civilians in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha and the bombing of a theater in Mariupol, but it does not have the authority to prosecute.

A special tribunal proposed by the EU is most likely to operate under Ukrainian law and be staffed by international prosecutors and judges.

But critics have argued that any UN-backed specialized court would be vetoed by Russia, a UN member.

Von der Leyen also stated that the EU wants to use Russian assets frozen under sanctions to help rebuild Ukraine.

“Russia and its oligarchs have to compensate Ukraine for the damage and cover the costs for rebuilding the country,” she said.

Von der Leyen said around €300 billion of the Russian central bank reserves has been immobilized, along with €19 billion of Russian oligarchs’ money. The damage to Ukraine is estimated at around €600 billion.

“In the short term, we could create with our partners a structure to manage these funds and invest them,” she said.

“We would then use the proceeds for Ukraine, and once the sanctions are lifted, these funds should be used so that Russia pays full compensation for the damages caused to Ukraine.”

The EU said the restrictions on Russian assets could be lifted if a peace deal between Ukraine and Russia settled the question of damages reparation.

— Euronews