Ukraine

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Prosecuting war crimes: are Ukrainian courts fit to do it?

 Only three months after Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukrainian courts delivered the first convictions for war crimes committed by Russian soldiers in Ukraine since February 2022. In May, a Russian soldier was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing a civilian in Sumy Region. The conviction of two more soldiers of indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas in Kharkiv Region followed. In June, the preliminary hearings in a case related to charges of murder and rape took place. Most recently, a Russian soldier was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment for pillaging. As of 4 August 2022, about 25 000 war crimes are pending investigation. The first war crime trials in Ukraine, closely scrutinised by the international community, prompted a discussion around the capacity of the Ukrainian courts to prosecute war crimes, their ability to do so in compliance with fair trial guarantees and the appropriateness of doing so while the war is ongoing. For instance, Kai Ambos writes about the…

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The European Union’s Sanctioning of Russian Military Officers: An Urge for Caution

Introduction As of 21 July 2022, the European Union (EU) has adopted seven rounds of restrictive measures (commonly referred to as ‘sanctions’) against the Russian Federation following its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The latest two rounds (adopted on 3 June and 21 July 2022, respectively) – in addition to containing…

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Russia’s Aggression against Ukraine and the Idealised Symbolism of Nuremberg

The Nuremberg International Military Tribunal (IMT) has a very strong symbolic standing for all post-Soviet nations and especially for Russia. Nuances, complexities and shortcomings are inherent to the IMT legacy. However, in Ukraine, Russia and the wider region, a Nuremberg reference will almost always have the connotation of paramount justice and the victory of the ultimate good…

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The Prosecution of British Fighters by Pro-Russian Separatists in Ukraine

A court of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) announced last Thursday that two British nationals, Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner (as well as Saadoun Brahim, a Moroccan national), who fought on behalf of Ukraine and surrendered during the siege of the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, have been handed a death sentence. This came just…

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Ukrainian Prosecution of ICC Statute Crimes: Fair, Independent and Impartial?

In view of the widespread euphoria about Ukraine’s admirable defensive struggle against the Russian war of aggression, it is easy to forget that until a few months ago Ukraine was still considered a problematic case in terms of the rule of law. Not only was the fight against corruption promised by President Zelenskyy considered insufficient, but classic deficits…

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