EU Tribunal to Investigate Russian war crimes

EU Tribunal to Investigate Russian war crimes
© TeaMeister via Flickr

Jakob Lindelöf

Europe and Human Rights Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence

On Wednesday November 30th, 2022, European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed to create a tribunal to investigate the war crimes perpetrated by Russian forces in Ukraine and to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes. As the announcement of the tribunal is recent and the proposal is in its infancy, much of the details have yet to be planned out of how the setup of the court will look like (Fiedler, 2022). One thing that was mentioned was the need for support and backing by the United Nations for international legitimacy; however Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council and thus has the ability to veto any suggestion.

The International Criminal Court has also been active in investigating potential atrocities in the ongoing war, and von der Leyen mentioned continued cooperation between the two (Petrequin, 2022). The day before the announcement by the EU, members of the G7 announced their  intentions to coordinate their own investigations on war crimes committed in Ukraine (Reuters, 2022). 

Ukraine has carried out its own prosecutions of captured Russian soldiers including a 21-year old tank commander (BBC News, 2022). 

Since the invasion on the 24th of February, Russia has been accused of a variety of crimes such as targeting the civilian populace (most notoriously in Bucha) and non-military infrastructure. As territory has been recaptured by Ukrainian forces, bodies of civilians have been uncovered in areas previously occupied by Russia. In Izium near Kharkiv around 450 bodies were found in mass graves (BBC News, 2022).

Sources and Further Reading

BBC News. (2022, November 14). Ukraine conflict: What war crimes is Russia accused of?. 

Retrieved from 

Fiedler, T. (2022, November 30). EU proposes setting up specialized court to try Russian war 

crimes. Politico. Retrieved from 

Reuters. (2022, November 29). G7 justice ministers agree to coordinate Ukraine war crime 

probes. Retrieved from

Petrequin, S. (2022, November 30). EU seeks specialized court to investigate Russia war 

crimes. AP News. Retrieved from