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Putting Putin and Company in the Dock

The UK and the US could help bring the war in Ukraine to an end by agreeing to create a special tribunal to indict the Russian dictator and his underlings for their crime of aggression. Doing so could chip away at Putin’s domestic support and send aggressors everywhere a clear message.

LONDON – Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to wage a winter war of attrition against Ukraine, targeting its civilian population in an attempt to starve and freeze the country into submission. In light of this dangerous escalation, the West must heed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s urgent plea for additional support.

To be sure, supplying the Ukrainian military with weapons beyond anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles walks the fine line that US President Joe Biden and NATO drew between defensive assistance and active involvement. But the United Kingdom and the United States could help to pressure Russia by joining those countries who are calling for a special international tribunal to investigate and indict Putin and his entire Security Council for their war of aggression, as Ukraine has requested.

International human-rights lawyers have been pressing for a special tribunal to be established since the outset of the war in Ukraine. But the Dutch government’s recent announcement that it supports the creation of an interim prosecutor’s office and would be willing to host the tribunal, together with the European Union’s support for a specialized court to investigate and prosecute Russia’s invasion, represents a breakthrough. With the process of gathering evidence well underway, the US and the UK must back the effort to prosecute Putin and his accomplices for their crime of aggression.