European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed on Wednesday to set up a specialized court to prosecute Russian war crimes committed in Ukraine.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought death, devastation and unspeakable suffering,” von der Leyen said in a statement. “Russia must pay for its horrific crimes, including for its crime of aggression against a sovereign state.”
“This is why, while continuing to support the International Criminal Court, we are proposing to set up a specialised court, backed by the United Nations, to investigate and prosecute Russia’s crime of aggression,” she added.
It’s still undecided what setup the tribunal could take. It could be created as an international tribunal or a hybrid one where the substantive laws are based on Ukraine’s legal system while the procedures follow international rules, an EU official said.
“In both cases, whether it’s the ad hoc or the hybrid tribunal, UN-backing is essential,” the official said.
Von der Leyen vowed that the European Union will work with the international community and will try to get the broadest international support possible for this court.
She further said that Russia must pay reparations for the estimated €600 billion in damage it has caused in Ukraine.
“And we have the means to make Russia pay,” von der Leyen added. The €300 billion of Russian Central Bank reserves and the €19 billion of Russian oligarchs’ money the EU has frozen will be used for that cause, she said.
However, funding Ukraine’s recovery with frozen Russian assets will likely cause a legal headache for the EU.
In the original version of the statement, von der Leyen said that “more than 20,000 civilians and 100,000 Ukrainian military officers have been killed so far.” This phrase was later deleted. Von der Leyen was presumably referring to U.S. estimates that 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed or wounded since the beginning of the war.
This article was updated. Leonie Kijewski contributed reporting.
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