Ten years of Russia’s war against Ukraine

February 15, 2024

120 000 war crime casesRussia has been waging war on Ukraine since the annexation of Crimea, followed by the war in Eastern Ukraine, since 2014. Since the full-scale invasion, around 120,000 war crime cases of the Russian army were registered in Ukraine. His research aims to develop new legal knowledge and understanding of domestic war crimes prosecutions and preconditions for fair war crimes trials in Ukraine according to best international practices. – The majority of the research on the war crimes prosecutions in Ukraine are done by Ukrainians in the Ukrainian language; Ukrainian research sometimes falls out of the broader global legal discourse. Therefore, I believe it's essential for international and Ukrainian research efforts to collaborate more closely to achieve the swiftest and most effective investigation of war crimes committed in Ukraine.

“We would like to maintain public attention to the war against Ukraine, as media landscape naturally changes due to other, new as well as ongoing, aggressions. A lot of attention has been paid to the full-scale invasion that started two years ago, but it is almost forgotten that this war has been going on for 10 years now,” says Associate Professor Liliia Oprysk at the Faculty of Law, University of Bergen.

She is one of the researchers hosting the conference at Bergen Global 20 February 2024.

120 000 war crime cases

Russia has been waging war on Ukraine since the annexation of Crimea, followed by the war in Eastern Ukraine, since 2014. This all escalated with the full-scale invasion all over Ukrainian territory on 24 February 2022.

Since the full-scale invasion, around 120,000 war crime cases of the Russian army were registered in Ukraine. This puts Ukraine’s justice system in a difficult situation with a large extra workload.

– It is very important for Ukraine to connect to international justice mechanisms for support, to answer the public demand for justice, says lawyer and PhD-candidate (MSCA4Ukraine Fellow) Artem Nazarko at the Faculty of Law, UiB. He is one of the speakers at the conference.

During the conference, Artem would like to discuss possible solutions to international support for the Ukrainian domestic justice system with other scholars. His research aims to develop new legal knowledge and understanding of domestic war crimes prosecutions and preconditions for fair war crimes trials in Ukraine according to best international practices.

– The majority of the research on the war crimes prosecutions in Ukraine are done by Ukrainians in the Ukrainian language; Ukrainian research sometimes falls out of the broader global legal discourse. Therefore, I believe it's essential for international and Ukrainian research efforts to collaborate more closely to achieve the swiftest and most effective investigation of war crimes committed in Ukraine. I firmly believe that our conference will be one of those initiatives that foster collaboration and contribute significantly to advancing the cause of justice in Ukraine, Artem adds.

Possible prosecution of Russian leadership

– Not all Russian actions in Ukraine have been war crimes, but all acts are illegal and must be seen as part of a crime of aggression, says Professor Terje Einarsen, at the Faculty of Law, UiB.

He is interested in the legal question of how Putin and the Russian leadership can be hold responsible and be prosecuted for this overreaching crime in Ukraine. This is one of the big questions after 10 years of Russian aggression. At the conference, Einarsen would like to discuss and explain different challenges and solutions to these questions.

Ukraine wants an international special tribunal, since it is not possible to find a solution through the UN Security Council because of the veto right of Russia. Another possibility would be through a resolution of the UN General Assembly and an agreement between the UN and Ukraine, but the political will seems to be lacking from major Western states and from states in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. It may, therefore, be difficult to obtain the necessary international support for this solution. An agreement between EU and Ukraine is another possibility. A special court established within the Ukrainian system will on the other hand not overcome head of state immunity. A group of states may also create a special tribunal, like it was done after World War II, but political will from US, UK and Germany seems to be lacking in this respect as well.

– I do not think there is one likely outcome at this point. Some creativity might also be needed. The best solution is probably to establish an international court through the UN General Assembly and agreement between the UN and Ukraine, but it requires solid diplomatic work. Acceptance by states from the ‘global south’ would then be needed, Terje Einarsen explains.

The source of this news is from University of Bergen

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