European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called Wednesday for a special court to prosecute Russian crimes against Ukraine.
Von der Leyen proposed a court backed by the United Nations “to investigate and prosecute Russia’s crime of aggression.”
She also said Russia and Russian oligarchs need to pay for costs to rebuild Ukraine from the damage done by Russian forces since they invaded Ukraine in February.
“Russia’s horrific crimes will not go unpunished,” von der Leyen said.
She spoke as NATO foreign ministers met in Romania on the final day of meetings that include discussing the conflict and support for Ukraine.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday Ukraine would one day join the Western military alliance in direct defiance of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“NATO’s door is open,” Stoltenberg said, renewing a commitment for Ukraine membership first made in 2008 but stalled since then. He noted that North Macedonia and Montenegro recently joined the West’s chief post-World War II military alliance, and that Sweden and Finland also will do so soon.
“Russia does not have a veto” on countries joining, Stoltenberg said. “We stand by that, too, on membership for Ukraine.”
“President Putin cannot deny sovereign nations to make their own sovereign decisions that are not a threat to Russia,” the former Norwegian prime minister said. “I think what he’s afraid of is democracy and freedom, and that’s the main challenge for him.”
But Ukraine will not soon join NATO, which under terms of the alliance’s charter, would likely push the armed forces of the 30-member nations directly onto the battlefield fighting Russian troops. It would be a commitment far beyond the billions of dollars in military and humanitarian assistance the United States and its allies have already sent to the Kyiv government to help Ukrainian fighters defend their country.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the United States is sending Kyiv another $53 million to support the purchase of critical electricity grid equipment in the face of weeks-long Russian airstrikes targeting Ukrainian infrastructure to knock out power and water systems as winter weather takes hold in the country.
The top U.S. diplomat said the equipment would be sent to Ukraine on an emergency basis and include distribution transformers, circuit breakers, surge arresters, disconnectors, vehicles and other key equipment.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters