European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called on Wednesday for a specialized court to investigate and prosecute Russian war crimes. File Photo by German Chancellor Press Office/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 30 (UPI) -- European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed on Wednesday setting up a specialized court to investigate and prosecute potential war crimes in Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Von der Leyen said the invasion, which began in late February, has caused "death, devastation and unspeakable suffering" that Moscow must pay for.
"This is why, while continuing to support the International Criminal Court, we are proposing to set up a specialized court, backed by the United Nations, to investigate and prosecute Russia's crime of aggression," von der Leyen said.
The International Criminal Court in March started investigating allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against Russia connected with the invasion. Von der Leyen said this new court would operate separately from that work.
She said the commission is already working with the international community to get the broadest international support possible for the court.
Von der Leyen also said Russia must "pay financially for the devastation that it caused" through its invasion, which she said has totaled an estimated $622 billion in damage in Ukraine so far.
"Russia and its oligarchs have to compensate Ukraine for the damage and cover the costs for rebuilding the country," von der Leyen said. "
She added the EU has "the means to make Russia pay" with more than $311 billion of blocked Russian Central Bank reserves and nearly $20 billion in frozen Russian oligarchs' money, noting those frozen funds will be invested and become the foundation to help fund Ukraine.
"Once the sanctions [against Russia] are lifted, these funds should be used so that Russia pays full compensation for the damages caused to Ukraine," von der Leyen said. "We will work on an international agreement with our partners to make this possible. And together, we can find legal ways to get to it."