7 July 2022, Thursday, 4:44
Sim Sim, Charter 97!

Oleksandr Khara: Lukashenka Must Be Held Liable for Crimes Against Ukraine

Oleksandr Khara: Lukashenka Must Be Held Liable for Crimes Against Ukraine

There are aggravating circumstances in his case.

On 9 May, US President Joe Biden signed the Lend-Lease Act for Ukraine. Ukrainian diplomat and political scientist, expert of the Maidan Foreign Affairs Foundation Oleksandr Khara in his commentary for Charter97.org<>/b spoke about the importance of this document, the work to hold the aggressor accountable and the role of the Belarusian dictator in the war unleashed against Ukraine:

- This is undoubtedly a historic event for several reasons. The first is that the Americans timed it to May 9. We know this is the day of "victory" in Moscow. Moscow has appropriated, or rather usurped, I would say, the history of the Second World War. And we know the history of the Second World War would have been different if Mr. Roosevelt had not signed the "United States Defense Authorization Act" in 1941. So the major thing that comes first, politically and symbolically, is that this Act was signed on the 9th of May.

The second thing is that in 1941, the Lend-Lease enabled both the Soviet Union not to fail, not to be conquered, and in fact other European countries, including the mighty British Empire. So now the same thing is happening to Ukraine. The assistance that is being rendered to Ukraine, military and otherwise, here it significantly strengthens our ability to defend ourselves and, in the long run, to throw Russian occupiers out of the temporarily occupied territories.

It is important both from the point of view of history, Ukraine's ability to defend itself, and the fact that the West has come from a policy of supporting Ukraine on a minimal level to the understanding that all efforts should be made for Russia to lose and Ukraine to win in this war. This is a signal to other states in the world who are either waging wars of conquest or may start them.

- Now European investigators are already collecting evidence of Russian war crimes. How can Putin be brought to justice?

- You know, there have been two historic events - the signing of the Lend-Lease, and also there is the organization called Open Society. They have an initiative called "fair justice. It includes former prosecutors from the International Criminal Court and professors who deal with international law. They published a model draft indictment of Putin and seven other top officials of the Putin regime in the Russian Federation. They suggest the ways to prosecute those who conceived, organized and carried out these crimes on the territory of Ukraine. Their idea is that genocide is difficult enough to prove, it is almost impossible in the legal sense. But an act of aggressive war is something that one can prove.

And it is an interesting thing which concerns Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. After World War II, the aggressive war has found its place among the crimes in our legislations. Therefore, these experts propose to organize a tribunal based on the Ukrainian legislation with the involvement of international organizations, maybe the UN General Assembly. It is clear that the UN Security Council cannot be involved, given the veto power of the Russian Federation and the presence of China, which would definitely not want to take sides.

It may be the EU, the Council of Europe, or some combination of these organizations. They will help to do this, using Ukrainian justice, using the legal assistance that other states provide to us. At the moment, I think 43, no less than forty, states have applied to international courts to investigate actions that have the features of war crimes. So they are providing great assistance in the form of investigators. There is a large US team,; France has sent its gendarmes; there is a British Government adviser to the Ukrainian Government who helps to properly prepare those facts which are then sent to us.

There is such a possibility. And it is also a historical thing. I mean, both this model indictment published and this kind of trial, a tribunal over a head of state. Not just a head of state, but a state that is a permanent member of the Security Council, a state that is a nuclear state. This is an extremely important point. I think such a tribunal would be a historic event of the 21st century, as historic as the Nuremberg Trials became after World War II.

- Will Lukashenka be held liable in these proceedings?

- Undoubtedly, he must be brought to justice. I do not mention the crimes he committed against the Belarusian citizens. I think Belarusian citizens should take care of it in order to live in a legal democratic state. As for crimes related to the war of aggression, there is the resolution 3314 of the UN General Assembly adopted in 1974. The resolution that defines what an aggression is. As a matter of fact, I constantly repeat that even if not a single Belarusian serviceman took arms, or was on the Ukrainian territory with the purpose of war against Ukraine, the fact of provision of territory for aggressive war is complicity, a crime.

We know that Russian occupation troops were passing through Belarus. Including, most importantly, those units that have committed terrible crimes in Bucha, Irpin and other small towns around Kyiv. The second point is that Russian Aerospace Forces are still launching missile strikes from the airspace of the Republic of Belarus against the territory of Ukraine, against peaceful cities. The missiles often hit civilian targets quite distant from military facilities. This is an aggravating factor for Lukashenka, who says as if he had nothing to do with it, that he is not involved.

In any case, giving them territory, helping them (legally the Russian Federation is an allied state, their armed forces are allied to Belarus) to commit aggressive acts against Ukraine is a crime. The upcoming tribunal should also include an episode on Lukashenka.

And, unfortunately, Ukraine made a mistake by giving him the opportunity to break the international isolation when the "Minsk process" between Ukraine and the Russian Federation was launched. I think it was a huge mistake.