European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated that the European Union would set up a co-ordination centre in The Hague to collect evidence for Russia’s trial in Ukraine, speaking at a joint press conference with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev, on Thursday.
“I am pleased to announce that an International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression in Ukraine will be set up in The Hague. This Centre will co-ordinate the collection of evidence. It will be embedded in the Joint Investigation Team which is supported by our agency Eurojust. We will be ready to launch work very rapidly,” von der Leyen claimed.
She went on to say that EU aims to have the tenth package of sanctions in place by February 24, 2023, ‘exactly one year since the Russian invasion in Ukraine started.’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also noted that the two sides had discussed the new sanctions against Russia and ‘in particular, the EU’s 10th sanctions package’.
“It is a joint European task to reduce Russia’s ability to circumvent sanctions and the faster and better this task is carried out, the closer we will be to defeating Russian aggression,” Zelensky stated.
On November 30, 2022, Ursula von der Leyen suggested that an international anti-Russian tribunal on Ukraine be set up under the aegis of the UN.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin noted that it would be a ‘legal nonsense’ to set up such an organisation to investigate without Russian participation.
Late November last year, Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, said that the initiative of the European Commission to establish some kind of tribunal on Ukraine under the aegis of the UN was an attempt to give legitimacy to the lawlessness against Russia. In January, he also stressed that Ukraine’s representatives are ‘gushing’ with ridiculous initiatives.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, during her speech at the Hague Academy of International Law on January 16, said that Russia’s actions should be dealt with by a special tribunal in the International Criminal Court.
“I believe it is so important to support and move forward with the idea of establishing an investigating authority in The Hague to address the Russian aggression – as an important instrument for investigating this crime”, she stressed.
In response, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova recommended that Berbock, before ‘opening mouth and accusing others’, visit the Nuremberg Trials museum, study its history and the meaning of the word ‘tribunal’.
Moscow launched a military offensive in Ukraine in late February 2022 after recognising the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR), claiming that Kiev had failed to guarantee their special status under the 2014 Minsk Agreements, and urging Ukraine to declare itself officially neutral and give assurances that it would never join NATO.
Kiev denounced the Russian action as an invasion. Zelensky imposed martial law throughout the country, announcing a general mobilisation, while the EU and the US imposed several rounds of sanctions on Moscow.