The German Foreign Minister put forward on Monday, January 16, the idea of creating a “special court” to prosecute Russian leaders. This stance is prompted by new accusations of war crimes from Moscow over the strike on a residential building in the Dnieper River, which killed at least 40 people over the weekend. Annalena Burbock called during a speech in The Hague to create a “new format” of the court in order to “bring Russian leaders to justice”. This will eventually use Ukrainian law but will be based abroad with international judges.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is already investigating alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine. But he is not competent in relation to the “crimes of aggression” of Russia, because Moscow is not a signatory of the Treaty of Rome, the founder of the Court. Therefore, since the beginning of the invasion, calls have become more frequent for the establishment of a tribunal that could investigate these crimes of aggression. According to Annalena Burbock, negotiations are already underway with Ukraine and other allies to create this “new format” of international justice, which would serve as a “special solution” to the Russian case.
At the same time, the minister proposes an alternative option for changing the ICC statute in The Hague so that he can try Russian officials for aggression. The only other way at present is through a UN Security Council resolution, but this will be met with a Moscow veto.
Moscow denies Dnieper ‘war crime’
The day before, EU officials called the massacre of Dnipro civilians a “war crime.” UN Secretary-General António Guterres also “condemned” a new example of “suspicion of violating the laws of war”. On Monday, January 16, the Kremlin, after two days of silence, denied any responsibility for the massacre in the Dnieper. Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov mentioned the “tragedy” that could have occurred due to the shelling of Ukrainian air defense. “The Russian armed forces are not bombing residential buildings or civilian infrastructure, they are bombing military installations,” he said, despite dozens of strikes on civilian targets since the incursion began.
On Monday, January 16, almost 48 hours after a rocket blew up a building on the Pobeda embankment in the Dnieper, according to emergency services, there were 40 dead and 77 injured. But 25 people are still missing and the toll is likely to rise even more in the coming days. This strike also brought several hundred people out into the street, and now they must be covered. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky promised in his daily address on Monday that “all those responsible for this war crime will be identified and brought to justice.”
Western support intensifies
Following a call by the President of Ukraine to “speed up” aid to Ukraine, US Assistant Secretary of State Wendy Sherman traveled to Kyiv on Monday (January 16) to meet with Volodymyr Zelensky. She promised him Washington’s “firm and unwavering commitment” to Ukraine. She also met with the Minister of Defense to discuss assistance that will be provided to strengthen the security system in Ukraine, for the economy and for the development of a bilateral commercial partnership between the two countries.
Faced with this rain of missiles and the threat of a major new Russian offensive, the Westerners stepped up their military aid to Ukraine. On January 20, at the American base in Ramstein (Germany), a meeting is scheduled for the supply of heavy weapons (in particular, tanks, from which the countries so far refuse to supply) in Kyiv. A large delegation of Ukrainian officials is also gathering this week in Davos in Switzerland to urge Westerners who have gathered for the World Economic Summit to deliver more weapons to them. At the end of December, Volodymyr Zelensky visited President Joe Biden at the White House, from whom he requested emergency military and economic assistance in the amount of about $45 billion.
Russia claims to have escorted a German plane
On Monday, Russia said it was escorting a German spy plane flying near the Russian border over the Baltic Sea. “Russian airspace control systems have detected an air target approaching the Russian border,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement. The “Su-27 fighter of the Baltic Fleet Air Force” accordingly flew out to “escort over the sea” this “P-3C Orion aircraft of the German Navy,” he added.
The incident comes in the context of Monday’s resignation of German Defense Minister Christina Lambrecht, weakened by a series of blunders at a time when Germany was again called for more military support for Ukraine. Kyiv is indeed requesting the supply of Leopard tanks, a request that Berlin has not yet responded favorably to and which could worsen its relations with Moscow.
Flags banned at the Australian Open
The Russian and Belarusian flags are now banned from the stands at the Australian Open, the National Tennis Federation announced on Tuesday (January 17). The decision takes effect “immediately”. In this sense, the direction of Open was captured by Ukrainian diplomacy. Russian and Belarusian tennis players have been competing under neutral banners for almost a year (Belarus supports the Russian invasion of Ukraine). But the Russian tricolor was noticeably seen in the stands on Monday, on the first day of the Australian Open, during the match between Ukrainian Katerina Beindl and Russian Kamilla Rakhimova.
In the stands, Ukrainian fans turned to the security services and the police with a request to respond. The Ambassador of Ukraine to Australia and New Zealand also called on the Australian Federation to take action. Last week, he already asked the Australian Open to completely disqualify Russian and Belarusian players, as the organizers of the Wimbledon tournament did last year. The Russian Embassy deplored “another example of the unacceptable politicization of sports.” “In addition to discriminating against Russian players with this policy, the Australian Football Federation is now going further by ensuring that they cannot gain any visible fan support,” the statement said.