Estonian Prosecutor General Andres Parmas said that legally speaking, there are grounds for criminal proceedings to be brought against Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, if the political leadership in Russia stays in place, the West will have to admit it is in a new cold war.
"What are the chances of catching these people? While we can always dream, the fact of the matter is that convicting a person first requires catching them and bringing them in front of a legitimate court," Parmas said on the "Terevisioon" morning show.
He added that should the power in Russia change, the new authority might be interested in holding its predecessors accountable.
"Another option would be their willingness to extradite these people to stand international trial. People have given up power themselves. Presidents spend a certain amount of time in power after which they become ordinary people. Should something like that happen, should Putin become an ordinary pensioner, he could be detained and punished by a country he is visiting as a tourist."
Asked what the punishment for Putin could be, Parmas said that while the death penalty is no longer accepted in our part of the world, it couldn't be anything less than a lengthy prison sentence.
The prosecutor general said that Russia has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.
"There are certain rules for war. We need to realize that violence between states cannot be completely ruled out. But if it happens, it needs to be contained to the armed forces. War crimes are violations that spill over those limits."
But there are also crimes against humanity.
"What Russia is perpetrating in its occupied territories goes beyond war crimes to crimes against humanity. Deportation of people by an occupying force is a crime against humanity," Parmas said.
Editor: Marcus Turovski