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Zelensky seeks legal mechanism to punish all Russian ‘murderers’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday stressed the need to punish all Russian “murderers and torturers” and appealed for more air defence systems to fight Moscow’s renewed offensive.

Zelensky told the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) that bringing the offenders to book was necessary to ensure lasting peace on the continent.

“We must continue our dialogue in order to hold Russia as the aggressor state and each of the Russian murderers and torturers to account for all crimes in this war, for every manifestation of terror,” he said via video link.

“When these legal mechanisms are established and operational, it will be one of the most powerful guarantees of long-term peace”.

The Ukrainian leader had made a similar appeal at the end of September at the United Nations.

The International Criminal Court based in The Hague opened its own probe into the war in Ukraine shortly after Russia invaded in February, but has said it is keen for Ukraine to bring suspects to justice where possible.

The ICC prosecutor on Thursday said Ukraine could extradite Russian war crimes suspects to the Hague-based court even though Moscow is not a member.

Zelensky also reproached PACE saying it had turned a blind eye when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014.

“In fact, there was an attempt to write off everything that Russia did against Ukraine and European values, starting in 2014. Write off under the guise of stories that it was necessary to maintain dialogue with Russia at all possible levels,” he said.

Zelensky called for Europe to isolate Russia diplomatically as he made a renewed pitch for “modern anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence systems” to “protect our sky from the terror of Russia”.

“If this is done, it will be a fundamental step to end the entire war in the near future,” he said.

“Europe can take the lead in the efforts to compensate for the damage caused by this war,” he said.

“We have to create an appropriate compensation mechanism – and we suggest the way to create it. The corresponding project has already been prepared by Ukraine. I urge you to support it — both in Europe and at the level of the UN General Assembly”.