Levits: Russia tribunal plan is moving very slowly

The initiative to establish an international tribunal to try the numerous crimes of Russian aggression in Ukraine is moving very slowly according to former Latvian President Egils Levits.

Levits, a former European-level judge himself, told Latvian Television February 21 evening that even the main question of what kind of tribunal to form has yet to be decided. A fast but possibly less effective solution would be to create a "hybrid" model, where the issue would be considered not only with Ukraine, but also with other countries, and it would not have as much international legitimacy, he suggested.

"But the best [model] is a real, international tribunal with the highest legitimacy. But the question is what is possible and how to choose between these two alternatives. There is plan "A" - the best, international model, and plan "B" – a hybrid model, which, of course, is better than nothing, but it should be primarily chosen by Ukraine," explained Levits.

He said that at the beginning of February, he met with the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Andriy Kostin in Rīga, with whom he discussed this issue. Both agreed that there is no need to hurry with the creation of the tribunal at the moment. 

"However, we will still try to advance plan "A", keeping in mind that at some point we will have to switch to plan "B", but that would be Ukraine's decision, said Levits. In order for plan "A" to be implemented, two-thirds of the countries in the United Nations General Assembly must support the creation of a relevant tribunal. 

For the most part, Western countries have expressed support for the creation of such a tribunal, but the problems are with the so-called 'Global South', Levits said.

"The position of the Global South is as follows: we condemn Russia in principle. There were resolutions where Russia was to be condemned [for the invasion of Ukraine], then they were also adopted with the votes of many countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, but as [creating] such a tribunal would be such a firm position against Russia, then they are reluctant," said Levits.

It is the so-called BRICS block – Brazil, South Africa, India, Indonesia, China, as well as Russia itself, of course – which is on he agressor's side.

The ruling position of these reluctant countries can be said to be "We condemn Russia, (..) but it is your business, your internal business, your, the West's, relations with Russia, take care of it yourself".

Ever since Russia's invasion of Ukraine two years ago Levits has repeatedly emphasized the need for the creation of an international tribunal to try Russia's crimes in Ukraine and since leaving office last year has continued to work towards that end. 

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