Last month Ukraine announced the preparation for setting up an international tribunal that will investigate criminal acts committed during Russia’s aggression against our country. The aim is to hold the higher political and military leadership of the Russian Federation accountable.
Deputy head of the Ukraine’s President’s Office Andriy Smyrnov and the the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry’s special envoy Anton Korynevych have announced this project to foreign media.
Anton Korynevych gave such comments about this process:
a work on this began literally in the last days of February, when the British international lawyer Professor Philippe Sands published an article in the Financial Times on whether a special tribunal should not be created now, which could try the leadership of the Russian Federation for the crimes of aggression against Ukraine;
we work a lot with our international lawyer colleagues. There are British among them – in particular, Philippe Sands, Dapo Akande, Aarif Abraham and Americans (Alex Whiting). There are also colleagues from other countries. We are very grateful to them for that. However, we can say that the idea of a special tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine emerged simultaneously in Britain and Ukraine, especially in the President’s Office and the Foreign Affairs Ministry. Sands’ article really started a public debate on this issue;
the way Russian responded was viciously and savagely. So they got hooked. That is, indeed, a very serious international precedent – the creation of a special tribunal for responsibility for the crime of aggression against the political and military leadership of the Russian Federation. This is important both from the point of view of general positioning in international relations and from the point of view of our position in the international arena – politically, legally. We believe that the Russian political and military leadership is, in essence, the Nazi evildoers of today. Europe has not seen such aggression as the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine since the end of the World War II. Therefore, the responsibility should be similar. Plus there is another very important factor in the evil of aggression;
it is much easier and simpler to prove. A guilty verdict can be ready in a few months. If we are talking about responsibility for war crimes and take, for example, Bucha, everything is more complicated there, as long as the matter concerns the top political leadership of the Russian Federation. Indeed, it will take a lot of time to establish the chain of command – the link between Kremlin’s leaders and the soldier who commits war crimes on the ground in Bucha. In this case we are talking about specific accusations. This, of course, must be done, but it can take time and be completed, conditionally, at the level of commanders of the relevant military units. It is easier to investigate and prosecute high-ranking political and military commanders in the case of aggression. This is, in essence, a crime that leads straight to the top;
the establishment of the tribunal requires an appropriate international legal basis. What can it be? It is quite obvious that it cannot be under present conditions. Because there is a permanent member there who will block any initiative. Also, under these conditions we have two options and three variants. The first option is to conclude an international treaty between the states establishing the tribunal. Indeed, the Nuremberg Military Tribunal was created on the basis of a treaty between the states. The other option (and the second and third variant) is an agreement between Ukraine and an international organization for the establishment of a hybrid tribunal with the help of international partners. This could be either a UN agreement or an agreement with a regional European body
we have to do everything we can in the legal field, in international courts, to ensure the maximum possible responsibility of the aggressor, to bring him to justice.