European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday called for a special court to prosecute Russian crimes against Ukraine.
Von der Leyen proposed a UN-backed court “to investigate and prosecute Russia’s crimes of aggression.”
She also said that Russia and Russian oligarchs must pay for the costs of rebuilding Ukraine from the damage done by Russian forces since they invaded Ukraine in February.
“Russia’s terrible crimes will not go unpunished,” von der Leyen said.
She spoke as NATO foreign ministers met in Romania on the final day of meetings that include discussions on the conflict and support for Ukraine.
FILE – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen talk during their visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, on September 15, 2022.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday that Ukraine would one day join the Western military alliance in direct defiance of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“NATO’s door is open,” Stoltenberg said, renewing a commitment to Ukraine’s membership first made in 2008 but stalled since then. He noted that North Macedonia and Montenegro recently joined the West’s main post-World War II military alliance, and that Sweden and Finland will soon as well.
“Russia has no veto” against countries joining, Stoltenberg said. “We stand by it also in terms of membership for Ukraine.”
“President Putin cannot deny sovereign nations to make their own sovereign decisions that are not a threat to Russia,” the former Norwegian prime minister said. “I think what he’s afraid of is democracy and freedom, and that’s the biggest challenge for him.”
But Ukraine will not soon join NATO, which under the alliance’s charter would likely push the armed forces of the 30-member nation directly into the battlefield against Russian troops. That would be a commitment far beyond the billions of dollars in military and humanitarian aid the United States and its allies have already sent to the Kiev government to help Ukrainian fighters defend their country.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the US is sending an additional $53 million to Kyiv to support the purchase of critical power grid equipment ahead of weeks of Russian airstrikes targeting Ukrainian infrastructure to knock out power and water systems as winter weather grips the country.
The top US diplomat said the equipment would be sent to Ukraine in an emergency and includes distribution transformers, circuit breakers, surge arresters, disconnectors, vehicles and other key equipment.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters