Key developments on May 4:
- Zelensky: We all want to see Putin in The Hague
- Zelensky meets Dutch PM and King of the Netherlands, addresses Dutch Parliament
- At least one drone shot down over Kyiv; debris causes fire
Russian President Vladimir Putin must be held accountable for his country's brutal war against Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in The Hague on May 4, calling for a special tribunal to prosecute Russian officials for the crime of aggression.
During his speech titled "No Peace Without Justice for Ukraine" in the Dutch city that hosts the International Criminal Court (ICC), Zelensky expressed confidence that Putin will face an international trial when Ukraine wins the war.
"We all want to see another Vladimir here in The Hague – one who deserves to be convicted of criminal acts," said Zelensky, referring to his namesake. "This must be done here in the capital of international law. I'm sure it will happen when we win. And we will win."
Zelensky appealed to establish a tribunal to prosecute Russian officials for the crime of aggression. However, the ICC does not have jurisdiction over this particular overarching case.
Zelensky's demand for justice comes as Ukrainian prosecutors allege over 80,000 Russian war crimes were committed across the country.
Russian forces have persistently targeted civilian populations and killed tens of thousands, launching missiles at cities far from the battlefield and purposefully attacking residential buildings.
In March, the ICC issued arrest warrants for Putin, as well as Russia's Children's Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova, for kidnapping Ukrainian children from occupied territories to Russia. More than 19,000 children have been abducted to Russia, according to a Ukrainian national database.
Tribunal for Russia
As the war rages on, Ukraine has repeatedly called for tribunals to punish those involved in the war efforts and hold them accountable for the atrocities, including bombing residential areas, abducting children, torturing and raping civilians, and executing prisoners of war.
"Impunity is the key that opens the door to aggression," Zelensky said.
"If you look at any war of aggression in history, they all have one thing in common – the perpetrators of the war did not believe they would have to stand to answer for what they did."
"They must stand to answer for war."
During his visit to the Netherlands, where he arrived late on May 3, Zelensky met Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and addressed the Dutch Parliament.
The President's Office later published a joint statement that said Ukraine and the Netherlands commit to the "establishment of an ad-hoc special tribunal for the crime of aggression."
"We strongly believe that The Hague, as the city of Peace and Justice, is the place to host the special tribunal," the statement reads.
Zelensky has conducted several international trips since the start of the full-scale invasion, with his first being a surprise trip to Washington, D.C., in December 2022.
On May 3, Zelensky traveled to Finland for a one-day summit with leaders of the Nordic countries.
Drone shot down over Kyiv
A series of unusually loud blasts were heard across Kyiv late on May 4 as local authorities reported the work of air defense.
The Ukrainian air defense shot down a drone over Kyiv, Kyiv City Military Administration reported in the evening. It added that the drone remains fell in the Solomianskyi district on Kyiv's right bank, causing a fire in a non-residential building.
Ukraine’s Air Force later said that the drone shot down was a rogue Ukrainian Bayraktar TB2 which went off course mid-flight. The Bayraktar is a Turkish strike operational-tactical medium-altitude drone with a long flight duration.
It is “a pity” that the technological malfunction happened, but there were no casualties reported, according to the Air Force.
There are unclarities about the May 4 drone incident. Kyiv residents reported hearing multiple explosions in the evening, and yet only one drone was said to be shot down.
Earlier in the day, Russia launched up to 24 Shahed-136/131 drones from Bryansk Oblast, bordering Ukraine and Belarus, and the Azov Sea's southeastern coast overnight, the Air Force reported. It added that 18 of them were shot down without indicating the location.
Russia has targeted Kyiv with drones for the third time in four days.
While recent attacks on Kyiv have only caused minor damage, Russia is increasingly targeting the Ukrainian capital. Russia’s mass strike on April 28, which also targeted Kyiv, marked the first time the city was attacked in 51 days.
Indiscriminate attacks against civilians are also intensifying across the country, in the south and the east.
Russian May 3 attacks killed 23 people in Kherson Oblast, Governor Oleksandr Prokudin reported on May 4. He added that 46 people were injured.
"A railway station and a crossing, a house, a hardware store, a grocery supermarket, a gas station – do you know what unites all these places? The bloody trail that Russia leaves with its shells," Zelensky said on May 3, vowing to hold all the perpetrators accountable.
Photos of civilians covered in blood at a shop and outside were shared by the authorities, showing more evidence of Russian war crimes.