Britain’s foreign minister announced on Friday that investigators will be dispatched to Ukraine to assist in the collection of evidence of war crimes, including sexual abuse.

Since Russia’s Feb. 24 incursion, which the Kremlin describes as a “special military operation” to demilitarize its neighbor, both Ukrainian prosecutors and the International Criminal Court (ICC) are examining possible war crimes in Ukraine.

In a war that has killed thousands, destroyed numerous cities and towns, and pushed five million people, largely women and children, to flee abroad, Moscow denies committing war crimes or targeting civilians in Ukraine.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said after meeting with ICC officials that a British team will travel to Ukraine in May to investigate rape as a potential war crime.

“It’s done to oppress women and destroy communities, and we want to put an end to it,” she said.

She remarked outside the courthouse in The Hague, “This is about collecting a wide range of evidence, witness accounts, forensic evidence, and video evidence.”

Separately, Truss met with her Dutch colleague, Wopke Hoekstra, to discuss the necessity for more measures on Russia, including a moratorium on the purchase of Russian natural resources.

On Ukraine policy, the two NATO partners have been tightly aligned, with both supporting the supply of heavy weaponry for the country’s war effort. By the end of 2022, both parties propose a complete prohibition on Russian energy exports to Europe, including gas.

Truss stated that the United Kingdom supports prosecuting Russian leaders for the war crime of aggression, which is a contentious issue under international law.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has jurisdiction over war crimes committed on Ukrainian soil, including by Russian soldiers, although Russia is not a member of the court and hence cannot be charged with aggression.

Some politicians and legal experts have suggested that the fastest way to hold Russian authorities accountable for an illegal war is to establish a separate tribunal.

Truss stated, “We want to see all of the offences tried.”

“I’m concerned that focusing on building up an additional tribunal will distract resources away from this crucial evidence collection,” she added.


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