Zelensky: Putin must face justice

Zelensky, the President of the United States, said that President Putin should be brought to justice for his “crimes of aggression” against Ukraine.

“We all want a different Vladimir in The Hague – the one that deserves to be sanctioned here, in international law’s capital, for his criminal acts,” he said in reference to the Russian leader. Zelensky is called Volodymyr in Ukrainian, which is the Ukrainian spelling for Vladimir.

The words of the US president coincided with a furious denial by the Kremlin that the US had been behind the drone attack this week, which Russia claimed was an assassination attempt against Putin.

Zelensky arrived in The Netherlands under heavy security and said he wanted a special court in The Hague set up to punish Putin, his top officials, for the invasion of Ukraine. “This crime should be punished.” “This can only be enforced through the tribunal,” said he. “I am sure that will happen when we win.”

In March, the ICC issued a warrant of arrest for Putin on charges related illegal deportation or about 20,000 Ukrainians children to Russia and Kremlin controlled areas in Ukraine. Russia, which does not belong to the ICC, says that these charges are unimportant. The ICC ruling could complicate Putin’s overseas trips, such as a planned trip to South Africa for August.

The ICC has jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity and other crimes in Ukraine but not on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a crime. Washington said that it would support the European Commission’s call for a separate centre international to prosecute Russia for its invasion. However, the allies are yet to agree on how such a center should be structured.

Zelensky stated that Russia committed 6,139 crimes of war in the last month, which resulted in 207 civilians deaths, including 11 children. Zelensky said that Russian forces killed, raped and tortured tens and thousands of civilians, including children, in the occupied areas of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian president stated that he was aware of the fact that his country had no realistic chance to be admitted into Nato before the conflict ended. He said: “But we need a clear message from Nato that we’ll be there after the war.”

Russia launched a new attack of missiles and drones against targets in Kyiv and Zaporizhzhia just hours earlier. This was the fourth round of strikes within a week, and came after Moscow claimed that Ukraine had tried to kill Putin with two drone attacks on the Kremlin.

Yesterday, the Ukrainian air defenses claimed to have shot down 18 out of 24 kamikazes drones during an attack on Kiev’s capital at dawn. There were no reported injuries. Ukrainian media reported that some drones were marked “For the Kremlin”.

Dmitry Peskov (Putin’s spokesperson) claimed that the US was responsible for the attack. “We know that Washington is the place where decisions are made about such acts and terrorist attacks. Peskov stated that Kyiv was already following instructions. It is important that Washington understands that we are aware of this and that such direct involvement in the conflict can be dangerous.

A Ukrainian soldier near Bakhmut

The claim was quickly refuted. John Kirby, White House national security spokesperson, told MSNBC that the White House had no involvement in this matter. “Peskov lies, plain and simple.”

Vyacheslav Vlodin, Speaker of the Russian Parliament, seemed to suggest that Moscow use nuclear weapons against Ukraine on Wednesday. Avril Haines, the US’s top intelligence official, stated that this was “very unlikely”.

Some analysts think the Kremlin’s drone attack was carried by Russian partisan fighters. According to the Institute for the Study of War in the US, it could have been a Russian stunt designed to boost public support for the conflict. Some, however, believe it was not a “false flag” operation, because Russian state TV chose to not show images of explosions above the Kremlin.