On Wednesday, leaders from across wider Europe gave their approval to establish a “Register of Damage” aimed at documenting the destruction caused by Russian forces in Ukraine. This initiative serves the purpose of holding Moscow accountable and ensuring that it can be held liable for compensation related to the damages inflicted.
It comes after a two-day summit of the Council of Europe (CoE) held in Iceland.
It was a “first, necessary, urgent step” ensuring “justice that is centred on the victims” of the war, said council head Marija Pejcinovic Buric said.
By early Wednesday, 40 countries had signed onto the creation of the register, another three countries were finalising internal procedures to do so.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the register would play “a central role…to punish the war crimes of the Russian occupiers and to demand accountability for the enormous damage that Russia inflicts on Ukraine day after day.”
His sentiments were echoed by other leaders of the 46-nation CoE, the continent’s preeminent human rights organization.
“The register is just one of a number of international initiatives set up to ensure accountability for the crimes inflicted in Ukraine,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.
“When we think in terms of reconstruction, it’s an enormously important judicial element to have this register of damages to give justice to the victims,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.
The United States, who attended the summit as an observer, Canada and Japan also supported the creation of the register.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the gathering in Reykjavik via video link, thanking Europe for its support for Ukraine.
“Russia is trying very hard to improve its ability to kill. We are trying very hard to improve the protection of our people,” he said.
“And I thank all the countries and leaders who help us to improve our air defence altogether. We are showing what our 100% mean and what the power of the free world means.”