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Ukraine“s Zelenskiy visits war crimes court in The Hague seeking justice


Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy takes part in a press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto (not pictured) Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen (not pictured), Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store (not pictured), Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson (not pictured) and Icelandic Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir (not pictured), in Helsinki, Finland May 3, 2023. Essi Lehto/REUTERS

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Thursday visited the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, which in March issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for suspected deportation of children from Ukraine.

Zelenskiy, dressed in his trademark khaki, was welcomed at the court by its president, judge Piotr Hofmanski.

Russia, which is not a member of the ICC and rejects its jurisdiction, denies committing atrocities during its conflict with Ukraine, which it terms a “special military operation”.

In his first official trip to the country, Zelenskiy was due to deliver a speech later in the morning, also in The Hague, titled “No Peace Without Justice for Ukraine”.

The Ukrainian leader has visited several foreign capitals including London, Paris and Washington since Russia’s 2022 invasion.

The Netherlands has been a strong supporter of Ukraine, with Rutte in February saying he did not rule out any kind of military support for Kyiv as long as it did not bring NATO into conflict with Russia.

Zelenskiy, who met with Dutch lawmakers earlier in the day, will also have meetings with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in February that an international centre for the prosecution of the crime of aggression in Ukraine would be set up in The Hague.

The ICC can prosecute genocide in Ukraine but has no jurisdiction over alleged crimes of aggression by Russia there.

An act of aggression is defined by the United Nations as the “invasion or attack by the armed forces of a state (on) the territory of another state, or any military occupation”.

Russia has stepped up attacks as Ukraine prepares for a counteroffensive to try to retake Russian-occupied land in the south and east. Russian shelling in the frontline southern region of Kherson killed at least 23 civilians on Wednesday.