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Ukraine war: Vladimir Putin will be on trial for war crimes one day, US envoy warns | US News


It is only a matter of time before Vladimir Putin is on trial for War Crimes according to President Biden’s envoy for global criminal justice.

Speaking to Sky News, ambassador Beth Van Schaack said a global coalition of nations and international lawyers is working together to build a case against Russia which leads right to the top.

“We need to connect the crimes we’re seeing on the ground, that we have very clear digital evidence of, with those in the position of command and control,” she said.

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A year of war in Ukraine

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“So, go up the chain of command; who ordered these offenses? Who allowed them to be committed?

“Who has failed to prosecute and investigate those deemed most responsible? Who has failed to properly supervise their subordinates?”

The quest for justice came as the general assembly of the United Nations overwhelmingly adopted a resolution calling for a comprehensive, lasting and just peace.

Some 141 of the UN’s 193 member nations called for Russia to withdraw from Ukraine and for accountability for war crimes.

Just six countries – Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea, Mali, Nicaragua and Syria – voted with Russia against the resolution.

China, India, Iran and South Africa were among the 32 countries who abstained.

The vote is not binding but does indicate that global resolve against Russian aggression has not dwindled over the past year.

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UN backs resolution demanding Russia’s withdrawal

A Western diplomatic source told Sky News: “One year on and despite all Russia’s efforts to distract and confuse and strong-arm people, international support for Ukraine has remained rock solid.”

Significantly, the attempt by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to garner support in Africa with a recent tour of nations there didn’t have the desired effect.

With the exception of Mali and Eritrea, they did not vote with Russia.

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Putin addresses stadium days before war anniversary

Putin in the dock

Asked how likely it is that President Putin faces a courtroom himself, Ambassador Van Schaack told Sky News: “Well, Augusto Pinochet, Slobodan Milosevic, Hissene Habre of Chad?

“I don’t think any of those men thought they would ever see the inside of a courtroom and every single one of them did. And so we need to be playing a long game here.”

Earlier this month, America’s secretary of state, Antony Blinken, announced that the US believes crimes against humanity have been carried out by Russia.

Mr Blinken said: “Members of Russia’s forces have committed execution-style killings of Ukrainian men, women and children; torture of civilians in detention through beatings, electrocution and mock executions; rape; and, alongside other Russian officials, have deported hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians to Russia, including children who have been forcibly separated from their families.”

He added: “These acts are not random or spontaneous; they are part of the Kremlin’s widespread and systematic attack against Ukraine’s civilian population.”

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Landmarks light up for Ukraine

Ambassador Van Schaack described the wealth of digital evidence being used to build a case against Russia.

“We’ve seen the satellite imagery and other imagery even just taken from ordinary CCTV cameras on people’s front yards of bodies lying hands tied behind their back; clear evidence of either torture or summary execution-style killings,” she said.

“Ordinary civilians now are capable of documenting the commission of war crimes around them by simply holding up their cell phone,” she added.

“The problem now is maybe too much information and having to sift through all of that digital information to find the best evidence.”

Read more:
Civilian deaths and injuries in war’s first year revealed
Johnson urges UK to ‘break the ice’ by sending jets to Ukraine
British PoW reveals Russian torture methods

Image:
Beth Van Schaack says there is almost now too much evidence of Russian crimes

Avenues for justice – and the shadow of Iraq

There are a number of routes to pursue a case against Vladimir Putin, his inner circle and individuals within his military hierarchy.

One is a prosecutor general in Ukraine investigating cases in the country’s own domestic system with support from the international community.

Another avenue is the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Domestic courts around the world could also play a role.

Many European states have already formed joint investigative teams to share information with each other about the condition of potential abuses, and potential responsible individuals.

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Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy is also seeking a mechanism to prosecute a specific case of the crime of aggression.

Ambassador Van Schaack explained: “This is a high priority for Ukraine, because they see that initial act of aggression as being the original sin that unleashed all of the other war crimes and atrocities that we’re seeing around the country.”

This avenue presents an awkward dilemma for the US.

Its invasion of Iraq in 2003, without United Nations approval, was deemed illegal by many counties who argue it represented an American-led act of aggression.

But Ambassador Van Schaack argues that it is “a false equivalence”.

“Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a manifest violation of the UN Charter,” she said.

“And it has been accompanied by war crimes everywhere. The world is increasingly united around the imperative of justice in this case.”

Ukraine war: Vladimir Putin will be on trial for war crimes one day, US envoy warns | US News



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Ukraine war: Vladimir Putin will be on trial for war crimes one day, US envoy warns | US News

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