Kiev has asked the United States to help set up a tribunal to investigate and try the Russian leadership for war crimes committed in Ukraine since the war began more than nine months ago.
“Peace is impossible without justice. And justice is impossible without the judiciary,” said the head of Ukraine’s presidential office Andriy Yermak in Wednesday’s address to the White House. “Starting a criminal and unprovoked war means opening the door to thousands of crimes of various levels committed during hostilities and in the occupied territory.”
In a discussion held by the US Institute for Peace and the Atlantic Council, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s right-hand man argued that it is not enough to investigate and prosecute war crimes committed on an individual level.
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Yermak said the Russian leadership has “the head[ed] hell of aggression” by ordering to start the war in Ukraine and should therefore be held responsible for the atrocities committed.
“Ukraine appeals to you and the United States of America to support our efforts to establish a special court for the crime of Russian aggression,” he said in a discussion attended by US think tank officials, the top Ukrainian leadership and US representatives. Bill Keating, D-Mass., and Joe Wilson, RS.C.
Fox News Digital could not immediately reach out to the State Department for comment on the US position when it comes to holding the Kremlin directly accountable for crimes committed by its troops.
Ukraine’s appeal to Washington comes just a week after the European Union kicked off a push to create a special court.
Details of what the court would look like remain unclear, although reports last month suggested the EU has proposed creating an international treaty or hybrid court that would rely on a national legal system that includes international judges .
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The EU has argued that it is important to establish a tribunal that has the backing of the United Nations even as thousands of investigations have been launched into alleged war crimes by Western nations and the International Criminal Court (ICC), as not all nations, including the United States and Russia, you acknowledge the jurisdiction of the ICC.
Although the US has a complex relationship with the ICC and does not recognize its authority over US citizens, Beth Van Schaack, ambassador general for global criminal justice, said earlier this week that the US can still help the court .
“In the midst of all this activity at the Court, the Biden-Harris administration has initiated a much-needed restoration of the United States’ relationship with the ICC,” he said. “Although the United States signed the Rome Statute, we are not a full-fledged party. However, there is much we can and have done to advance the work of the Court.”
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Van Schaack said the United States would continue to work with the court to help arrest Russian perpetrators responsible for crimes in Ukraine.
The United States has said it can also help with witness protection and joint investigative efforts into international crimes.