European countries coordinate prosecution of Russian war crimes in Ukraine

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European countries gathered in the Netherlands on Thursday to coordinate ongoing efforts to punish Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

Several European countries have launched investigations into the ongoing Russian invasion, and Ukraine itself discovered more than 15,000 probes in alleged war crimes.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has already opened an investigation into Russia, and its chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, is calling for a “comprehensive strategy” for countries seeking to hold Russia accountable.

“The simple truth is that as we speak, children, women and men, young and old live in fear,” Khan said in his opening remarks at the Ukraine Accountability Conference in The Hague.

Bodies lie in a mass grave in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, April 3, 2022 Russia.

Bodies lie in a mass grave in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, April 3, 2022 Russia.
(AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Russian army sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, 21, behind glass during a court hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday, May 13, 2022.  On Friday, the trial began of a Russian soldier accused of killing a Ukrainian civilian.  Moscow's invasion of its neighbor.  (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Russian army sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, 21, behind glass during a court hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday, May 13, 2022. On Friday, the trial began of a Russian soldier accused of killing a Ukrainian civilian. Moscow’s invasion of its neighbor. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

“They are suffering in Ukraine and in many other parts of the world,” Khan said. “Grieving what they lost yesterday, holding their breath about what they might lose today and what tomorrow might bring. At such a time, the law cannot be a spectator.”

USA condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin as a war criminal, accusing him of ordering the murder and torture of civilians in Uranus.

UKRAINIAN WAR CRIMES TRIALS: RUSSIAN SOLDIERS LEARN THEIR PUNISHMENTS

While the US is not directly involved in war crimes investigations, it has secured support for ongoing investigations elsewhere. The ICC works in the Joint Investigation Team together with Ukrainian, Polish and Lithuanian prosecutors. The legal branch of the European Union, Eurojust, is also involved in these efforts.

The US State Department sent Commissioner for Human Rights Uzra Zeya as a representative to a conference Thursday in The Hague.

“The number of war crimes is growing every day. Rape, torture, extrajudicial executions, disappearances, forced deportations. Attacks on schools, hospitals, playgrounds, apartment buildings, granaries, water and gas facilities,” Zeya said. “These are not actions by illegal units – they follow a clear pattern in all parts of Ukraine affected by Russian forces.”

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However, it is not clear what action the ICC may take against Russia after the investigation. Russia is a sovereign state and is not a member of the ICC. Any consequences for the regime could take the form of further economic sanctions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.