According to a new interview with The Associated Press, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is calling on Russia to face a war crimes tribunal before attending a peace summit in early 2023.
Ukraine hopes to convoke a peace summit with the UN as the ideal host by the end of February 2023 — but Kuleba said Russia would not receive an invitation unless Moscow first submits to a war crimes tribunal before an international court.
“It’s the only way they can be invited to take this step,” Kuleba told the AP.
“Every war ends diplomatically. Every war ends because of measures taken on the battlefield and at the negotiating table,” said Kuleba, adding that the country is focused on ending the war in the new year.
Kuleba pointed out that UN Secretary General António Guterres, whom he called “a man of principle and integrity,” could be a possible facilitator for the peace summit. It would likely follow up on a 10-point peace plan presented by Zelensky at the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia last month.
Moscow’s leadership has said it is prepared for peace talks, but Kuleba expressed doubts.
“They regularly say they’re ready to negotiate, which isn’t true because everything they do on the battlefield proves otherwise,” he said.
Kuleba’s remarks follow Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s historic visit to the US last week when he stopped by the White House and delivered an unprecedented speech before a joint session of Congress.
Days later, Congress passed its extensive government funding bill, which provided around 45 billion dollars in aid to Ukraine as its war with Russia continues. The Pentagon promised another $1.85 billion and the use of the US Patriot missile system to support Ukrainian air defense.
The secretary of state told the AP that he was “absolutely satisfied” with Zelensky’s trip.
Ukraine has long accused Russia of war crimes in the midst of the fighting — Zelensky said last month that more than 400 war crimes were documented in occupied Kherson alone — and the president’s office is pushing for a tribunal to prosecute Russia.
“The towns and villages destroyed by Russia, destroyed destinies, destroyed and executed lives should be reflected not only in the verdicts for those who committed all this directly, but also in the judgments for those who organized and started this aggression,” Zelensky said earlier this month.
“It is necessary to turn it into reality as soon as possible,” the president said of the tribunal.