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Investigators exhumed the bodies of six men on Tuesday who were believed to have been executed by Russian forces. Credit… Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times Kyiv has redoubled its push to persuade world leaders to create an international tribunal to hold Russian soldiers and top Moscow officials accountable for atrocities in Ukraine.
On Wednesday, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, proposed the establishment of a specialized, United Nations-backed court “to investigate and prosecute Russia’s crime of aggression.” Although there would be several procedural hurdles to overcome before such a court could be set up, the call reflected support among top Western leaders for accountability for atrocities.
“We are ready to start working with the international community to get the broadest international support possible for this specialized court,” Ms. von der Leyen said in a statement.
President Volodymyr Zelensky made a plea for an international tribunal in his nightly address on Tuesday, the same day that justice ministers from the Group of 7 nations discussed a proposal to create a war crimes tribunal in Berlin and Ukraine’s first lady made the case to British lawmakers.
Investigators have documented evidence of possible Russian war crimes since the war’s early days, including the execution of civilians in Bucha, a Kyiv suburb, in March.
More recently, retreating Russian forces have left behind unmarked graves and torture rooms. After it was recaptured by Ukrainian troops in September, a mass burial site was found near the town of Izium, with many of the dead showing signs of torture. Civilians killed execution-style were also found this month in the southern region of Kherson.
The Kremlin has denied such allegations against its forces. And it could be years before any prosecutions for war crimes conclude. Russian and Ukrainian soldiers have both been accused of war crimes since Moscow ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February, although the number and scale of reported Russian crimes are far greater.
Videos that surfaced on social media this month have raised questions over whether Ukrainian forces committed war crimes when they captured and killed a group of Russian soldiers in the Luhansk region. While Russia accused Ukraine of needlessly killing Russian prisoners of war, Ukraine’s commissioner for human rights, Dmytro Lubinets, said Russian soldiers ha