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Ukraine updates: G7 ministers discuss war crime probes

November 29, 2022

Germany is hosting a meeting of justice ministers about sharpening up investigations into war crimes committed in Ukraine. NATO will support Kyiv "as long as it takes," Jens Stoltenberg has said. Follow DW for more.

Lyman - Forensic technicians and officers work at what appears to be a mass grave declared by regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko
Russia has rejected the claims its forces had committed war crimes in UkraineImage: PAVLO KYRYLENKO/REUTERS

A delegation from Ukraine was attending a meeting of justice ministers from the G7 countries this Tuesday in Berlin to discuss improving cooperation on war crime probes.

German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said the aim was primarily about cooperation in securing evidence and avoiding duplication of work.

Victims who testify should not, for example, be asked to testify about their traumatic experiences more than once, he said.

Buschmann added that the meeting sent out the signal: "War crimes must not go unpunished."

Ukraine is pushing for a special tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes, with the EU signaling it was open to the idea.

After the talks, Buschmann said attacks on the power grid also constituted a war crime, being targeted at civilians.

"Systematic destruction of the heating and electricity supply" ahead of the coldest months of the year was a "terrible war crime", Buschmann told reporters.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also condemned the Russian missile attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure as "a brutal rupture of civilization."

"When infrastructure is deliberately bombed, then you wilfully accept that children, the elderly, that families should freeze to death, die from thirst and hunger," she said, speaking at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in the Romanian capital, Bucharest.

Germany holds the G7 presidency until the end of the year, and Japan will take the role over in 2023.

Kherson residents describe torture under Russian occupation

Here are the other main headlines from the war in Ukraine on Tuesday, November 29:

Russia to send forced laborers to armaments factory

Russia wants to send around 250 prisoners who have been sentenced to forced labor in the Urals — a mountain range that runs from north to south through the west of the country — to work in an armaments factory, Russian media reported on Tuesday.

According to the reports, the forced laborers are to work at the Uralvagonzavod factory in the city of Nizhny Tagil as machine and crane operators, woodturners and welders.

Ukraine reiterates need for air defense systems at NATO meeting

Ukraine's foreign minister has reiterated his country's need for air defense systems and transformers to face Russia's incessant strikes on its energy infrastructure.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters on the sidelines of a Tuesday meeting for NATO's foreign ministers that Ukraine needs IRIS, Hawk and Patriot missile defense systems.

"If we have transformers and generators, we can restore our energy needs. If we have air defense systems, we can protect from the next Russian missile strikes. In a nutshell: Patriots and transformers are what Ukraine needs the most," Kuleba said.

NATO's foreign ministers, meanwhile, pledged support to Ukraine once again, condemning Russia's attacks on civilian and energy infrastructure.

"We will continue and further step up political and practical support to Ukraine as it continues to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity...and will maintain our support for as long as necessary," a Tuesday statement read.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg echoed warnings by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy regarding Russia's intentions toward Ukraine. Stoltenberg said: Russia "is willing to use extreme brutality and leave Ukraine cold and dark this winter. So we must stay the course and help Ukraine prevail as a sovereign nation.''

First Russian fertilizer shipment bound for Africa, UN says

The first shipment of Russian fertilizers departed the Netherlands for Malawi on Tuesday on a World Food Program-chartered vessel.

The shipment of 20,000 metric tons of fertilizer is the first in a series of similar shipments destined for a number of African countries in the coming months.

A United Nations spokesman welcomed the shipment in a statement, explaining that it was part of the UN, Turkey brokered deal reached last July to address global food insecurity instigated by Russia's war on Ukraine.

The deal allowed Ukraine to export foodstuff via the Black Sea without being attacked.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also thanked the governments of Russia, Malawi and the Netherlands for helping enable the fertilizer shipment.

"Fertilizers play a key role in food systems, as 50% of the world population depend on agricultural products that are produced with the help of mineral fertilizers," the UN spokesman said.

Air raid sirens across Ukraine

The all-clear has been sounded after air-raid sirens wailed across Ukraine for the first time this week on Tuesday.

Although Ukrainians fled the streets for bomb shelters, there were no immediate reports of major attacks away from the front. 

However, officials said the threat had not necessarily lifted despite the all-clear being given.

NATO chief says Ukraine support will not waver

NATO head Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance would not back down in its support for Kyiv as the alliance's foreign ministers gather in Bucharest foreign ministers gather in Bucharest to discuss more aid for Ukraine over the winter.

In an opening address, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Ukraine could only gain acceptable terms if it were to advance on the battlefield.

"NATO will continue to stand for Ukraine as long as it takes. We will not back down," Stoltenberg said.

Ministers are expected to discuss additional support following Russian attacks on the Ukraine's energy infrastructure.

Ahead of the meeting, Stoltenberg said Moscow was trying to use winter as a "weapon of war against Ukraine" adding that NATO's allies and Ukraine "need to be prepared for more attacks."

On the sidelines of the meeting, Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said NATO was not running low on tanks it could send to Ukraine. Landsbergis said the alliance was in a position to "expand the inventory of what is being sent to Ukraine."

Russian diplomat says risk of confrontation with US growing

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov says Washington's increasing involvement in the Ukraine conflict carries growing risks.

Russian news agencies quoted Ryabkov saying Moscow had been trying to warn the United States about Western military support for Ukraine.

Moscow claims the military help — which has seen Ukraine take back large tracts of occupied land — is dragging out the conflict, risking a possible direct confrontation between Russia and the West.

"We are sending signals to the Americans that their line of escalation and ever deeper involvement in this conflict is fraught with dire consequences. The risks are growing," the Interfax news agency quoted Ryabkov as saying.

Kyiv and the West say Russia is to blame for any further escalation in light of Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February. 

Ryabkov was cited as saying that there was no dialogue between Washington and Moscow at the highest level, but that both sides "periodically exchange signals."

Russian missiles hit Ukrainian city of Dnipro

Regional officials say four Russian missiles struck the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro earlier on Tuesday.

The governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, Valentyn Reznichenko, said the production facilities of a "private company" had been severely damaged in the attack. 

A fire broke out as a result of the missile strikes but has since been extinguished, Reznichenko said. He added that there were no casualties or injuries.

Reznichenko said the town of Nikopol, which lies further south on the Dnipro river, was also shelled.

US approves major arms sale to Finland 

The US State Department says it has approved a second significant arms sale to Finland within a
month, helping Russia's Nordic neighbor strengthen its defenses.

After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Helsinki granted an additional €1.7 billion ($1.76 billion) to arms and other defense material procurement this year alone.

Finland also applied to join the Western military alliance NATO in a security policy U-turn together with neighboring Sweden.

The State Department said the proposed sale of missiles and related equipment would improve Finland’s air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons capabilities.

Finland plans to use the missiles with a new fleet of F-35 stealth jets it is also buying from the United States.

UK ministry sees shift in Russia's deployment tactics

The UK Ministry of Defense says it appears that Russian forces in Ukraine have largely stopped deploying as Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs).

The ministry says that the BTG concept has played a major part in Russian military doctrine for the last ten years.

It sees battalions integrated with a full range of supporting sub-units, including armor, reconnaissance and, as opposed to normal Western practice, artillery. The ministry says the goal, to allow greater flexibility, has not been realized in Ukraine.

"Several intrinsic weaknesses of the BTG concept have been exposed in the high intensity, large-scale combat of the Ukraine war so far," the ministry said.

"BTGs' relatively small allocation of combat infantry has often proved insufficient."

"Decentralised distribution of artillery has not allowed Russia to fully leverage its advantage in numbers of guns; and few BTG commanders have been empowered to flexibly exploit opportunities in the way the BTG model was designed to promote."

More coverage of the war in Ukraine

DW takes a look at how the Kremlin's view of international affairs is being heard in Africa, where many countries have remained silent on his war of aggression.

Acclaimed Ukrainian author Andrey Kurkov is being awarded the Geschwister-Scholl-Preis for his book "Diary of an Invasion," chronicling Russia's attack on Ukraine in early 2022.

jsi, rc/dj (AFP, dpa, AP, Reuters)