Ursula von der Leyen pledged to set up a new specialized international court to try Russia’s war crimes against Ukraine. In a video posted on Twitter, the European Commission President delivered a stern warning to Vladimir Putin, vowing to mobilize the international community to punish Russia for crimes during its invasion.
But she was later forced to delete the video after infuriating officials in Kyiv for sharing classified estimates of Ukrainian casualties in the war.
In the original video, Ms von der Leyen said: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought death, devastation and unspeakable suffering. We all remember the horrors of Bucha.
“It is estimated that more than 20,000 civilians and more than 100,000 Ukrainian military officers have been killed so far.
“Russia must pay for its horrific crimes, including for its crime of aggression against a sovereign state.
“And this is why, while continuing to support the International Criminal Court, we are proposing to set up a specialized court, backed by the United Nations, to investigate and prosecute Russia’s crime of aggression.
“We are ready to start working with the international community to get the broadest international support possible for this specialized court.”
Responding to the estimated figures given by the Commission head, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s armed forces said: “We cannot confirm this figure, we emphasize that the losses of the Ukrainian army are official information and are subject to restrictions on publication.”
Ukrainian armed forces treat casualty numbers as a defense secret and subject to wartime censorship.
The Commission chief later published an edited version of the video, with the figures left out, claiming they related to estimates of total casualties, both people killed and injured.
A spokesperson for Ms von der Leyen said: “Many thanks to those who pointed out the inaccuracy regarding the figures in a previous version of this video.
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“We have blocked €300 billion of the Russian Central Bank reserves and we have frozen €19 billion of Russian oligarch’s money.
“In the short term, we could create, with our partners, a structure to manage these funds and invest them.
“We would then use the proceeds for Ukraine. And once the sanctions are lifted, these funds should be used so that Russia pays full compensation for the damages caused to Ukraine.
“We will work on an international agreement with our partners to make this possible. And together we can find legal ways to get to it.
“Russia’s horrific crimes will not go unpunished.”