Zelensky calls for ‘special tribunal’ to punish Putin war crimes

Zelensky issues warning to the EU

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked for the creation of a new “special tribunal” to deal with Vladimir Putin’s war crimes as he addressed delegates of the Council of Europe. Addressing the Council in a video call, the Ukrainian leader said “we have some ideas on how to create” the new tribunal, calling on Europe to “play a great role”. 

The Ukrainian President also renewed his request for air defence systems, claiming Ukraine only has 10 percent of what it needs for its air defences.

He urged European leaders to cut Russia financially completely. “Russia should see zero accounts”, he said. 

Mr Zelensky added that Moscow must be made to comply with demands by the UN nuclear watchdog to allow the demilitarisation of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

“We cannot have diplomacy with Russia today, we cannot respect leaders who a re killing and not respecting international law”, he continued.

“Such leaders must be shown their place and isolated.”

The Ukrainian leader’s remarks come as a Russian Security Council official said that if Ukraine is admitted into the US-led NATO military alliance, then the conflict in Ukraine would be guaranteed to escalate into World War Three.

Just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin formally proclaimed the annexation of up to 18 percent of Ukraine on September 30, President Zelensky announced a surprise bid for fast-track membership of NATO.

Full NATO membership for Ukraine is far off because all the alliance’s 30 members would have to give their consent.

“Kyiv is well aware that such a step would mean a guaranteed escalation to World War Three,” TASS quoted Alexander Venediktov, the deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, as saying.

Mr Venediktov, who is deputy to Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, a powerful Putin ally, said he felt Ukraine’s application was propaganda as the West understood the consequences of Ukrainian membership of NATO.

“The suicidal nature of such a step is understood by NATO members themselves,” he said.

Putin has repeatedly railed against the United States for driving NATO’s eastward expansion, especially its courting of ex-Soviet republics such as Ukraine and Georgia which Russia regards as part of its own sphere of influence.

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Putin on September 21 warned the West he was not bluffing when he said he would be ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia against what he said was “nuclear blackmail” from major Western powers.

US President Joe Biden has said the world faces the biggest risk of nuclear Armageddon since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. NATO is due to hold an annual nuclear preparedness exercise dubbed “Steadfast Noon” next week.

Russia and the United States are by far the biggest nuclear powers: they control about 90 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads.

Mr Venediktov said Zelensky’s call for preventive strikes against Russia was dangerous, cautioning that nuclear war would have catastrophic consequences for the world.

“We must remember: a nuclear conflict will affect absolutely the whole world not only Russia and the collective West, but every country on this planet,” Mr Venediktov said. “The consequences would be disastrous for all mankind.”

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