European Leaders Take Historic Step in Registering Damage for Ukraine, Paving the Way for Justice and Compensation from Russia’s War


European leaders convened at a summit in Iceland on Wednesday to commemorate a significant milestone in the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia. They hailed the creation of a groundbreaking “register of damage” as a historic achievement and a crucial initial step towards holding Russia accountable for its actions. The instrument, established by the Council of Europe comprising 46 nations, aims to compile an evidentiary record that could potentially lead to future prosecutions of Russian leaders and facilitate compensation for the victims of the war. Marija Pejcinovic Buric, the head of the council, emphasized the register’s importance as the first necessary and urgent measure to ensure justice for the war’s victims. By the beginning of Wednesday, 40 countries, including the United States and all other G7 nations, had already signed on to support the creation of the register, with three more countries finalizing internal procedures to do the same. Importantly, countries outside the Council of Europe, including those beyond the European Union’s membership, were also encouraged to endorse the register. Ukraine, a member of the Council of Europe, warmly welcomed this initiative. Several European Union countries also expressed support for Ukraine’s call to establish a special court to try Russian leadership for war crimes.

The Hague-based International Criminal Court had previously issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children. The register of damage, which will be lodged in The Hague with a satellite office in Ukraine, will meticulously document the harm and destruction inflicted by Russia during the war. Originally planned for a three-year duration, the register paves the way for the future establishment of an international comprehensive compensation mechanism for the victims of Russian aggression, as stated by the Council of Europe.

The significance of this move by the broader European community cannot be overstated. It underscores Russia’s increasing isolation on the continent and follows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent diplomatic tour, during which Germany, France, and Britain pledged to enhance arms support for Ukraine. Zelensky aims to bolster Ukraine’s air defenses in response to Russia’s deployment of missiles and drones. While Western allies remain cautious about providing advanced fighter jets due to concerns about further escalation, the commitment to addressing the damages suffered by Ukraine sends a resolute message of solidarity and determination.


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