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EU Seeks Probe of Russia War Crimes    11/30 06:23


   BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union proposed Wednesday to set up a 
U.N.-backed specialized court to investigate possible war crimes committed by 
Russia in Ukraine, and to use frozen Russian assets to rebuild the war-torn 

   European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said in a video message 
that the EU will work with international partners to get "the broadest 
international support possible" for the tribunal, while continuing to support 
the work of the International Criminal Court.

   Since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine on 
Feb. 24, his military forces have been accused of abuses ranging from killings 
in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha to deadly attacks on civilian facilities, including 
the March 16 bombing of a theater in Mariupol that an Associated Press 
investigation established likely killed close to 600 people.

   Investigations of military crimes committed during the war in Ukraine are 
underway around Europe, and the Hague-based International Criminal Court has 
already launched investigations.

   Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska on Tuesday also urged that Ukraine's 
invaders be held account as she addressed lawmakers in London.

   "Victory is not the only thing we need. We need justice," she said, 
comparing Russian war crimes to the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany in 
World War II.

   She called on Britain to lead efforts to set up a criminal tribunal to 
prosecute senior Russians over the invasion, similar to the postwar Nuremberg 
trials of leading Nazis.

   Von der Leyen on Wednesday added that the 27-nation bloc wants to make 
Russia pay for the destruction it caused in neighboring Ukraine by using 
Russian assets frozen under sanctions.

   She estimated the damage to Ukraine at 600 billion euros.

   "Russia and its oligarchs have to compensate Ukraine for the damage and 
cover the costs for rebuilding the country," von der Leyen said. "We have the 
means to make Russia pay."

   Von der Leyen said 300 billion euros of the Russian central bank reserves 
has been immobilized, and that 19 billion euros of Russian oligarchs' money has 
been frozen.

   "In the short term, we could create with our partners a structure to manage 
these funds and invest them," she said. "We would then use the proceeds for 
Ukraine, and once the sanctions are lifted, these funds should be used so that 
Russia pays full compensation for the damages caused to Ukraine."

   The EU said the lifting of the restrictions on Russian assets could be 
linked to conclusion of a peace deal between Ukraine and Russia that would 
settle the question of damages reparation.

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