US affirms support for ‘hybrid’ Putin tribunal, not favoured by Ukraine

The US will support the establishment of a ‘hybrid’ tribunal for prosecuting the crime of Russian aggression that it says would be an international tribunal based on Ukraine's legal system.

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While Kyiv has previously made a point of opting for other formats of such tribunal, US Department of State spokeswoman Andrea Kalan stressed that the ‘hybrid’ one would help "guarantee and ensure its impartiality and legitimacy," which is "what we all strive for".

"We all want all those who commit and have committed crimes against Ukraine and against Ukrainians to be seen in court and to be punished. And so what we know is that evil will be punished, and the guilty must be held accountable," Ms Kalan said in an interview with Radio Svoboda.

"That is why the United States supports this particular form of hybrid tribunal. Because this is exactly what can ensure that all those responsible will be held accountable."

Asked whether the ‘hybrid’ tribunal would involve taking Russian president Vladimir Putin into custody, the US State Department spokesperson said the International Criminal Court had issued an arrest warrant for him.

"And all countries that are signatories to the Rome Statute have to adhere to that. So there are different forms," she responded.

The hybrid ‘tribunal’ for the crime of Russian aggression would operate under Ukrainian law and could pass sentences under its criminal code, but would be seated in a different country. Its judges would include both Ukrainian and international representatives.

Proponents of this format of the tribunal say that the legal immunity of Mr Putin is irrelevant to Ukraine, a victim of Russian aggression, so he could be convicted in absentia.

Ukraine, however, has dubbed the option as controversial, since the international legitimacy of the ‘hybrid’ tribunal is questionable, and its constitution explicitly forbids the establishment of special courts – something that cannot be changed under martial law.