Europe, G7 sign war register for Ukraine
Reykjavik (AFP) -
Europe and the United States on Wednesday hailed a newly created 'register of damage' for Ukraine as a first step to making Russia pay for its war.
The instrument, created by the 46-nation Council of Europe, records claims of damage or loss, paving the way to a future mechanism to compensate victims of the conflict.
The register is a 'first, necessary, urgent step' ensuring 'justice that is centred on the victims' of the war, said council head Marija Pejcinovic Buric on the second day of the summit in Iceland.
She said that, by early Wednesday, 40 countries had signed onto the register, including the United States, Japan and all other G7 nations.
Another three countries were finalising internal procedures to do so.
She and other leaders emphasised that countries outside the Council of Europe -- a pan-continental rights body separate from the European Union but incorporating all 27 EU member states -- could back the initiative.
The register, established initially for three years, will be lodged in The Hague with a satellite office in Ukraine.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, at the summit, hailed the register as 'an important milestone on the road to justice and reparations for Ukraine and the Ukrainians who have suffered so much from this war.
'The hard work begins now -- we need to ensure that the register becomes operational soon, so that victims of Russian aggression could submit their claims.'
- Wide support -
US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, at the summit in an observer capacity, told Icelandic media that America was 'proud' to join it and was working to drum up funds to contribute to it.
Russia was kicked out of the council last year after invading Ukraine.
Several EU countries back Ukraine's call for a special court to be set up to try Russia's leadership for war crimes.
The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) in March issued an arrest warrant for Putin, accusing him of unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz voiced support for the register, which he signed on to, but pointed out that 'it doesn't settle the issue of payment for the damages' to Ukraine.
He said Europe could use money raised from frozen Russian funds to help pay for Ukraine's postwar reconstruction.
The move by the wider European community highlighted Russia's isolation on the continent.
The summit 'shows clearly that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin has failed,' Scholz said.
- Ukraine presses for jets -
'This meeting and this declaration is important to show the strength of our unity, the strength of our commitment' to Ukraine, the head of the EU's European Council, Charles Michel, said.
The summit was held just after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wrapped up a whirlwind tour of major European capitals that saw Germany, France and Britain all vow to step up arms deliveries to Ukraine.
Ukraine is believed to be preparing an offensive on Russian positions in the east of its territory to be launched within weeks.
Zelensky is intent on boosting air defences as Russia deploys missiles and drones to inflict long-range damage.
He is pressing Western allies to provide advanced fighter jets but they are wary, fearing it could escalate the war.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte agreed on the first day of the summit that they would build an 'international coalition to provide Ukraine with combat air capabilities, supporting with everything from training to procuring F-16 jets'.