President Volodymyr Zelensky on Dec. 14 urged the European Parliament to set up a special tribunal immediately to punish Russia for its “terrorist war against Ukraine and Europe.”
“I call on all of you, your parties and states, to effectively support this work,” Zelensky said in his virtual speech at an award ceremony for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize, which was given to the “brave People of Ukraine” this year.
“When any potential aggressor knows that punishment for a criminal war is inevitable, it will be the most effective tool for war prevention,” Zelensky added.
Ukraine has long sought to hold Russia accountable for its war crimes and relied on its international partners to help with the prosecution procedure, which is expected to be lengthy and challenging.
While defending itself from invading Russian troops, Ukraine has been trying to document as many war crimes as possible to hold perpetrators criminally accountable. Ukrainian prosecutors say that they have recorded over 53,000 cases of Russian war crimes across the country.
During his eight-minute-long speech, Zelensky said that the proceedings must not wait until the end of the war, calling on the European Parliament to adopt a resolution in support of creating the tribunal.
The EU had already announced its plans to set up an UN-backed specialized court to prosecute alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Nov. 30 that this process would support the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s ongoing investigation.
“Russia must pay for its horrific crimes, including for its crime of aggression against a sovereign state,” von der Leyen said then in a statement.
Meanwhile, law enforcement continues to uncover mounting evidence of Russian war crimes.
On Dec. 14, Dmytro Lubinets, the human rights commissioner of the Verkhovna Rada, said that the authorities had discovered a room that Russian troops used to detain and torture children during the occupation of Kherson.