EU to consider war crimes strategy in Ukraine meeting

Foreign ministers gather in Luxembourg for discussions about next steps against Russia

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell visited Kyiv at the weekend with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to review the impact of the war. EPA

European Union foreign ministers will discuss possible war crimes prosecutions at a meeting in Luxembourg on Monday as the bloc’s top diplomat criticised the “brutal, brutal” aggression of Russian troops in Ukraine.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the ministers would speak with the International Criminal Court's Prosecutor General Karim Khan as pressure mounts to hold to account those responsible for any war crimes in Ukraine.

Ukraine says it has discovered 1,222 bodies in Bucha and other towns around the capital Kyiv from where the Russian army retreated last week.

Mr Borrell visited Kyiv at the weekend with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to review the impact of the war.

“We have witnessed what's happening there and the brutal, brutal aggression of Russian troops against the civilian population,” Mr Borrell said before the meeting.

"We provide as much support as we can through our mission to the prosecutors, both the Ukrainian prosecutor and the ICC prosecutor."

Mr Khan visited Ukraine last month and said that his office might prosecute attacks targeting the civilian population and hospitals.

“Those taking part in these hostilities, whether as regular armed forces, militias, or self-defence groups, must know that in putting on a uniform or by carrying weapons they are not absolved of responsibility but indeed they take on extra legal obligations,” he said after the visit.

Foreign ministers attending the meeting on Monday will discuss a sixth round of sanctions and signalled their support for stronger measures against Russia, including war crimes investigations.

Jan Lipavsky, the Czech Foreign Minister, called for punitive action against the Russian president.

“(Vladimir) Putin is a perpetrator of this horrendous war crimes and atrocities and he should be punished for that."

The Austrian chancellor, Karl Nehammer, is also expected to raise alleged Russian war crimes in Bucha and other Ukrainian towns when he meets Mr Putin in Moscow.

Mr Borrell said that Russian troops were preparing to bolster attacks on the Donbas region after Moscow withdrew its forces from around Kyiv. The EU has returned its ambassador to Kyiv in a sign of the improved security situation in the capital.

Updated: April 11, 2022, 11:01 AM