Ukraine’s Zelensky, in The Hague, says Putin must face justice

AMSTERDAM, May 4 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin must be brought to justice for his war in Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in The Hague on Thursday.

“We are going to set up a separate court to show that these people are not untouchable,” Zelenskiy told a news conference. “We want justice.”

The International Criminal Court, a permanent war crimes court in The Hague, issued an arrest warrant for Putin in March on suspicion of abducting children from Ukraine, a war crime.

But the ICC has no jurisdiction over the crime of aggression in Ukraine. An act of aggression is defined by the United Nations as “an invasion or attack by the armed forces of one State against another State or any military aggression”.

The European Commission said it supports the creation of a separate international center to investigate the crime of aggression in Ukraine, which would be set up in The Hague.

“We all want to see a different Vladimir in The Hague, who deserves to be sanctioned for his crimes in the capital of international law,” Zelensky said in a speech earlier in the day, referring to Putin.

“I’m sure that will happen when we win, and we will win,” he said.

Key legal and practical questions surround how a new court to adjudicate aggression would be legitimized by a group of countries that support it or with approval by the UN General Assembly.

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Russia is not a member of the ICC and has already rejected its jurisdiction. It denies committing atrocities during its conflict with Ukraine, which it calls the “militarization” of its neighbor a “special operation”.

Earlier in the day, as he left the ICC after less than an hour’s travel, Zelensky, dressed in his trademark khaki, waved to a Ukrainian family standing outside the ICC building, shouting “Slava Ukraine” — or glory to Ukraine.

The Netherlands has been a strong supporter of Ukraine, with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte saying in February that he did not rule out any military support for Kiev as long as it did not bring NATO into conflict with Russia.

Rutte assured that there are “no obstacles” to sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, before adding that “we are not there yet” and that discussions are ongoing with other countries on the matter.

Russia has stepped up attacks as Ukraine prepares for a counter-offensive to retake Russian-occupied territory in the south and east. At least 23 civilians were killed in Russian shelling on the frontline south of Kherson on Wednesday.

Report by Bart Meijer; Editing by Andrew Heavens

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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