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Conference opens up pathway for Ukraine's war victims to claim compensation

Conference opens up pathway for Ukraine's war victims to claim compensation

Ministers and officials from dozens of countries gathered in the Netherlands on Tuesday for a conference on restoring justice in Ukraine, as the war sparked by Russia's invasion drags on in its third devastating year.

A register for Ukrainians to seek compensation for damage to their homes as a result of Russia’s invasion received more than 100 claims on its first day of opening.

“It’s a sign of how high the demand is, but it’s also a sign of how thirsty people are for justice,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.

The applications filed Tuesday are the tip of the iceberg. The Council of Europe expects between 300,000 and 600,000 claims.

The Hague-based Register of Damage Caused by the Aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, also known as RD4U, aims to allow further claims soon, including those related to damage or destruction of Ukrainian critical infrastructure.

The register will not pay out any claims, but it is a stepping stone toward an international compensation mechanism that is yet to be established.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy used a video message to urge delegates at the conference to continue efforts to tackle impunity for war crimes in order to “provide real strength to common security - security from aggressions and terror.”

"We are creating very concrete systematic tools to compensate for the damages caused by this war. Together with many countries and leaders, we cooperate on confiscating Russian assets and profits from them. All this should work for the people whom Putin tried to destroy with this war." he added.

Dutch Foreign Minister Hanke Bruins Slot said the devastating toll of Russian attacks underscored the need to support Ukraine.

"Because if we don’t, the country’s justice system will eventually collapse under the weight of these atrocities,” she said.

In a closing declaration, 44 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and France, pledged to work toward establishing a special tribunal for the investigation and prosecution of the crime of aggression against Ukraine where Russian leaders could be prosecuted.

“We welcome the significant progress made in this regard, and we encourage interested states and international organisations to strengthen their efforts to secure a sound legal basis and broad international support for the completion of this process,” the declaration said.

The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and the country’s commissioner for children’s rights, charging them with personal responsibility for the abductions of children from Ukraine.

The court also issued warrants for two senior Russian military officers for alleged responsibility for attacks on critical infrastructure in Ukraine.