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Minister in Brussels: Common EU position on Russia special tribunal needed

Urmas Reinsalu at the FAC meeting in Brussels, Monday, March 20, 2023.
Urmas Reinsalu at the FAC meeting in Brussels, Monday, March 20, 2023. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The European Union must formulate a common position on a special tribunal aimed at holding Russia accountable for its atrocities committed in the course of its invasion of Ukraine, including the wholesale kidnapping of Ukrainian children and their deportation to Russia.

Ahead of the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) meeting in Brussels Monday, which he was attending, Reinsalu made a statement before the European Humanitarian Forum in which he stressed that Russian aggression has fomented a humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, and exacerbated humanitarian aid needs across the globe.

"Estonia will continue to make every effort to help people receive the humanitarian aid they need, and stand up for respecting international humanitarian law," Reinsalu said.

The FAC meeting also discussed holding Russia accountable for the crimes committed in Ukraine.

"It is the moral duty of the international community to hold Russia accountable," Reinsalu said, welcoming the decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) last week to issue arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova.

The latter is a Russian politician serving as the Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights in Russia since 2021 and stands charged with the unlawful deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, in the arrest warrant issued by the ICC against her and Putin late last week.

The foreign minister said that in addition to the work of the ICC, forming a common EU position to move forward with establishing a UN-mandated special tribunal and heading off immunity being granted either to the Russian state or its leader, was needed.

Reinsalu also called for quick progress with the latest, 11th, sanctions package against Russia, stressing the equal importance of ensuring Russia does not find ways to evade the sanctions imposed so far. "On top of additional sanctions we must quickly lower the price cap set on oil, as Russia is financing its war in Ukraine with the profit it is making," Reinsalu added.

"We must also impose joint EU sanctions on individuals involved in the unlawful arrest of journalist and opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza," he went on, adding that the EU needs to establish a separate sanctions mechanism for halting oligarchs who act as Kremlin agents of influence in Moldova.

The FAC also gave a political endorsement to a joint shipment of 1 million artillery shells to Ukraine within a 12-month period, a decision which the foreign minister also welcomed.

The FAC meeting also looked at EU's Strategic Compass, the situation in Tunisia, human rights violations in Iran and that country's support for Russia in its aggression against Ukraine.

A doorstep interview in English with the foreign minister as he arrived at the FAC meeting is below.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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