Holding Russia to account for war crimes in Ukraine: Borrell outlines three main areas of EU's activity

Holding Russia to account for war crimes in Ukraine: Borrell outlines three main areas of EU's activity

The European Union provides and will continue to provide active assistance to Ukrainian and international law enforcement officers in investigating atrocities committed by Russian troops in the territory of Ukraine, and will coordinate international efforts to bring to justice all those responsible for war crimes and the war of aggression against Ukraine.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell made a corresponding statement on Friday in Brussels during the conference “Joint Actions for Ending Russia’s Impunity and Delivering Justice for Victims” and outlined the main areas of the actions.

The full text of his speech was published on the website of the European External Action Service (EEAS).

“Let me start by praising the resistance shown by the Ukrainian people to Russia’s war of aggression. These horrifying atrocities and war crimes cannot and will not go unpunished. The EU is engaged with Ukraine and international partners to ensure accountability for crimes committed in Russia’s war against Ukraine,” the EU High Representative said.

There are three strands to this work, Borrell noted.

The first one is the support for ICC’s central role in investigating war crimes and crimes against humanity. According to the EU High Representative, those who have seen the horrors of Bucha and elsewhere know that these are the gravest and darkest of crimes. In this regard, Borrell praised the work of the ICC Chief Prosecutor.

“Secondly, we are providing support to the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, on the collection of evidence, training of investigators. We do this through our representation, the EU Advisory Mission Ukraine, Eurojust and the Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group (ACA),” he noted.

The third area is the support for the Ukrainian efforts to ensure accountability for the crime of aggression. President Zelensky called for the establishment of a Special Tribunal for the crime of aggression. The EU believes it is essential that those responsible be held accountable and that justice prevails.

The EU, together with Ukraine and international partners, and in full coherence with the work of the ICC, will work to support the establishment of a tribunal to investigate and prosecute the crime of aggression. As Borrell noted, this tribunal should have the backing of the UN and the broadest support of the UN membership. European Commission President Von der Leyen and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell have already presented proposals to this end to EU Member States.   

“One final comment on accountability – financial accountability. Russia must also pay for its destruction of Ukraine. To date, EU Member States have frozen approximately 19 billion Euros of assets belonging to Russian oligarchs and others supporting President Putin. Approximately 300 billion Euros of Russian Central Bank reserves have been blocked. While ‘frozen’ and ‘blocked’ does not mean ‘confiscated’, we will explore legal avenues to make sure that Russia pays for the reconstruction of Ukraine,” the EU High Representative summed up.

As reported, along with political, financial, economic and humanitarian assistance, the EU provides practical and advisory assistance to Ukraine in the investigation and international documentation of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Russian troops in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine since February of this year.

In particular, representatives of the EU Advisory Mission to Ukraine, who received such powers from Brussels, work at crime scenes, a number of European countries joined the group investigating such crimes and sent their investigators to Ukraine. To facilitate such an investigation and the activities of the ICC, the European Union clarified the legal provisions regarding the activities of the Eurojust agency, which received the opportunity and appropriate resources to accumulate and process evidence of crimes committed in Ukraine, as well as preserve such evidence and testimonies outside Ukraine which is currently at the stage of active hostilities.


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