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Minister: Russian war crimes tribunal must be set up

Urmas Reinsalu (third from left) with the B9 foreign ministers and US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in New York, Wednesday, September 21 2022.
Urmas Reinsalu (third from left) with the B9 foreign ministers and US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in New York, Wednesday, September 21 2022. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Russia should be called to account for its actions in Ukraine, while NATO allies should continue to forge ahead with redoubled resolution, particularly along the Eastern Flank and at a time when the Kremlin is escalating the situation via a large-scale mobilization and the declaring of illegal referenda in occupied Ukrainian zones, Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) says.

Speaking at the UN in New York Wednesday after a meeting with the foreign minister's of the Bucharest Nine (B9) group, composed of NATO's eastern flank nations, Reinsalu said:  "We see every day how Russia has been violating international law and human rights in its war on Ukraine, its deliberate attacks civilians and infrastructure, and how it has now begun preparations for the illegal annexation of the occupied territories of Ukraine. The aggressor nation is ready to escalate the conflict, and our countermeasures must be specific and effective."

Reinsalu also reiterated calls for an international tribunal to be adjourned to hold those culpable in war crimes in Ukraine accountable.

"In Russia itself, there must not be any feeling permitted of impunity for the war crimes committed in Ukraine, meaning a special tribunal must be created to hold the perpetrators of crimes of aggression organized by the Russian government accountable," he continued, according to a foreign ministry press release.

The B9 ministers agreed that military, economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine should be increased, as should sanctions against Russia, while that country's international isolation should be continued.

An increase in NATO's presence in the region was also needed, Reinsalu said. "We expect NATO's presence to increase in the Baltic Sea region, both on land, at sea and in the air, without neglecting the augmentation of cyber security. Broader cooperation between the US and NATO, and the increase in rotations in the Baltic countries, will help secure our security on the Eastern flank."

Decisions made at June's NATO Madrid Summit must be implemented as soon as possible in order to confront Russia as the alliance's most serious security threat, the minister went on.

The foreign minister also called for the joint condemnation of illegal referenda called by the Kremlin earlier this week in respect of the "republics" of Donetsk and Luhansk, which, Reinsalu said, are occupied territory and should be deemed terrorist states.

He also stressed the alliance's open-door policy and expressed hope that Finland and Sweden, who formally applied for membership in early summer, will see their applications fully ratified soon.

Reinsalu is in New York September 19-24, the opening week of the UN General Assembly's 77th session, a busy time with plenty of bilateral and other meetings and events.

The B9 meeting was also attended by US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman (pictured).

In addition to Estonia, the B9 nations are: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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