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19 Jan, 2023 14:50

EU parliament backs tribunal to probe Russia

Moscow has previously said that any establishment of such a court would be “illegitimate” and would not have any jurisdiction
EU parliament backs tribunal to probe Russia

The European Parliament on Thursday voted in favor of establishing an international court to probe Russia over its conflict with Ukraine. Moscow has rejected allegations of war crimes in the past and has also said such a court would have no legal power over it. 

In a non-binding resolution, MEPs asked the bloc and its individual member states to create a “special tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine,” accusing Moscow of violating international law. The legislators added that the tribunal would “focus on alleged genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine.”

“The EU’s preparatory work on the special tribunal should begin without delay,” the resolution said. 

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky thanked the parliament for the move. “Russia must be held accountable,” he tweeted. 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said late last month that an international tribunal tasked with prosecuting Russia would be rejected by Moscow as “illegitimate” and that the West has no legal right to establish it.

He said this in response to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposing a special UN-backed court to probe what she described as Russia’s “horrific crimes” in Ukraine. 

Similar suggestions have been made by other Western and Ukrainian officials. Bloomberg reported a few months ago that The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) could start reviewing cases of alleged Russian crimes in Ukraine in late 2022 or early 2023.  

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that “the current attempt by Western countries to whip up a quasi-judicial mechanism is unprecedented in its legal nihilism and is yet another example of the West’s practice of double standards.”

Moscow launched a military operation in Ukraine last February, citing the need to protect the people of Donbass, as well as Kiev’s failure to implement the 2014-15 Minsk accords. 

Kiev and its Western supporters have since accused Russian troops of killing civilians in Bucha, near Kiev, and other areas. Moscow maintains that its forces only strike military targets and has insisted that allegations of atrocities were fabricated. 

Ukraine said in the past that peace can only be achieved if Russia faces an international court. Moscow has rejected this demand as unacceptable. 

The Kremlin has said Russian investigators were, however, carefully documenting crimes committed by the Kiev regime since 2014, when a violent coup ousted a democratically elected government and Kiev sent its military to Donbass. Peskov said Moscow had not seen “any critical reaction from the so-called ‘collective West’” on those wrongdoings.