Ukraine calls on US to back tribunal to try Kremlin for war crimes

Ukraine ask US to back international effort to hold Kremlin accountable for war crimes

Kyiv has called on the U.S. to help it create a tribunal that would investigate and try Russian leadership for the war crimes committed in Ukraine since the war began more nine months ago.

"Peace is impossible without justice. And justice is impossible without judiciary," head of Ukraine's presidential office Andriy Yermak said in Wednesday message directed at the White House. "To start a criminal and unprovoked war is to open the door to thousands of crimes of various levels committed during hostilities and in the occupied territory."

In a discussion held by the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Atlantic Council, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s right-hand man argued it is not enough to investigate and try war crimes committed on the individual level.

A woman walks amid destroyed Russian tanks in Bucha, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, April 3, 2022.

A woman walks amid destroyed Russian tanks in Bucha, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, April 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

EU PUSHES TRIBUNAL TO INVESTIGATE RUSSIAN WAR CRIMES BUT GAFFES CLAIM THAT '100,000 UKRAINIAN' SOLDIERS KILLED

Yermak said that Russian leadership have "head[ed] the hell of aggression" by ordering the war in Ukraine to begin with and should therefore be held responsible for the atrocities committed. 

"Ukraine appeals to you and the United States of America to support our efforts to establish a special tribunal for the crime of Russian aggression," he said in a discussion attended by U.S. think tank officials, top Ukrainian leadership and U.S. Reps. Bill Keating, D-Mass., and Joe Wilson, R-S.C.

Fox News Digital could not immediately reach the State Department for comment on the U.S.’s position when it comes to holding the Kremlin directly responsible for crimes committed by its troops.

Ukraine’s appeal to Washington comes just one week after the European Union threw its weight behind the push to create a special tribunal.

Details on what the tribunal would look like remain unclear though reporting last month suggested that the EU has proposed the creation of either an international treaty or a hybrid court that would rely on a nation-based legal system that encompasses international justices.

A convoy of pro-Russian troops moves along a road in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Thursday, April 21.

A convoy of pro-Russian troops moves along a road in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Thursday, April 21. (REUTERS/Chingis Kondarov)

UKRAINE'S ZELENSKYY CALLS FOR 'FAIR TRIBUNAL' IN NUREMBERG-STYLE TRIALS TO HOLD RUSSIA ACCOUNTABLE

The EU argued it is important to establish a tribunal that had the backing of the UN even though thousands of investigations have been opened into alleged war crimes by Western nations and the International Criminal Court (ICC), as not all nations, including the U.S. and Russia, recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC.

Although the U.S. has a complex relationship with the ICC and does not acknowledge its authority over U.S. citizens, Beth Van Schaack, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice, said earlier this week that the U.S. can still aid the court.

"In the midst of all this activity at the Court, the Biden-Harris Administration launched a sorely needed reset of the U.S. relationship with the ICC," she said. "Although the United States signed the Rome Statute, we are not a full party. Nonetheless, there is much that we can do, and have done, to advance the work of the Court."

Bags with dead bodies are seen during the exhumation in the recently retaken area of Izium, Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 16, 2022. Ukrainian authorities discovered a mass burial site near the recaptured city of Izium that contained hundreds of graves. 

Bags with dead bodies are seen during the exhumation in the recently retaken area of Izium, Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 16, 2022. Ukrainian authorities discovered a mass burial site near the recaptured city of Izium that contained hundreds of graves.  (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

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Van Schaack said the U.S. will continue to work with the court to help apprehend Russian perpetrators responsible for crimes in Ukraine.

The U.S. said it can also help with witness protection and in joint investigative efforts regarding international crimes.