The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, announced this Monday that the bloc’s foreign ministers have agreed to offer financial aid and a team of experts to the Prosecutors’ Offices of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and of Ukraine to help them document possible war crimes committed by the Russian Army in that country.
“We will support both prosecutors financially and with our team on the ground”, announced Borrell at a press conference, who made it clear that the Twenty-seven they do not exclude sanctioning Russian oil and gasalthough this Monday no agreement has been taken in this regard.
The foreign ministers have held a meeting with the ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khanwho has opened an investigation for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine, and with the Ukrainian Prosecutor General by videoconference.
Holding Russia responsible for “gross violations of international law”
The High Representative explained that at the meeting this Monday “the first issue was how to hold Russia accountable for gross violations of international law“. “We will provide assistance in documenting war crimes,” Borrell said.
The European Union, in addition to offering economic support, will deploy in Ukraine the advisory mission that he kept in that country before the war, which will now cooperate with his Prosecutor’s Office in order to “ensure the investigation and collection of evidence on the ground”.
The Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office has identified around 5,600 cases that could constitute war crimes, most of them found in the town of Bucha, where researchers from the NGO Human Rights Watch they are working to document them.
The EU studies how to implement sanctions to “avoid loopholes”
“Nothing is off the table, including sanctions on oil and gas, but today no decision has been taken”, said Borrell, who underlined that the European Union continues “discussing how to implement” sanctions to “avoid loopholes”.
The High Representative explained that at Monday’s meeting, the Foreign Ministers held a “general discussion” and analyzed figures after the Twenty-seven approved a fifth package of restrictive measures against Moscow that, in the field of energy, they only vetoed Russian coal and starting in August.
“It is important to start with oil, which is a large bill that is easy to replace,” Borrell said, detailing that energy problems “are greater in central Europe than in western Europe.” “It has to be managed by combining unity and solidarity“, he asserted.
In any case, Borrell stressed that “everyone has become aware of the great risk of this strong energy dependency” and has recognized that “we are concerned about the humanitarian consequences of this war“.