EU seeks to set up specialized court to probe alleged crimes

The European Union will try to set up a specialized court that would investigate and prosecute alleged crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday.

“Russia must pay for its horrific crimes, including for its crime of aggression against a sovereign state. And this is why while continuing to support the International Criminal Court (ICC), we are proposing to set up a specialized court, backed by the United Nations, to investigate and prosecute Russia’s crime of aggression,” von der Leyen said in a video message.

“We are ready to start working with the international community to get the broadest international support possible for this specialized court,” she said.

It is estimated that more than 20,000 civilians and more than 100,000 Ukrainian military personnel have been killed since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, von der Leyen said.

“Russia must also pay financially for the devastation it has caused,” she said, “and we have the means to make Russia pay.”

The damage suffered by Ukraine is estimated at 600 billion euros, von der Leyen said. “Russia and its oligarchs have to compensate Ukraine for the damage and cover the cost for rebuilding the country,” she said.

The EU has blocked 300 billion euros of the Russian Central Bank reserves and frozen 19 billion euros of Russian oligarchs’ money, von der Leyen said.

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

“We will work on an international agreement with our partners to make this possible. And together we can find legal ways to get to it,” she said.

“Russia’s horrific crimes will not go unpunished,” von der Leyen added.

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