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Putin said he would cooperate with international probe into war crimes, but 'he doesn't trust Western world'

Business Insider US

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting via videoconference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Friday, April 15, 2022.
  • Western leaders have called for a war crimes investigation into the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
  • Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said Putin is open to an investigation, but there are challenges.
  • Nehammer was the first European Union leader to meet with Putin since the invasion began.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed openness to cooperating with an international investigation into potential war crimes committed in Ukraine.

Nehammer on Monday became the first European Union leader to meet with Putin since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February. Prior to visiting Moscow, the Austrian leader went to Ukraine, where he visited Bucha and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. In an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" on Saturday, Nehammer said he went to Russia after Ukraine "to confront President Putin" with what he saw in Ukraine.

"I told him what I saw. I saw the war crimes. I saw the massive loss of the Russian army. And I told him that there is a need for humanitarian corridors for cities like Mariupol or Kharkiv, for example. Civilians need water and we need to take care of the wounded there," Nehammer said.

Host Chuck Todd asked how Putin reacted when Nehammer accused his soldiers of committing war crimes.

"He told me he will cooperate with an international investigation, on the one hand, and on the other hand, he told me that he doesn't trust the Western world," Nehammer said, adding: "this will be the problem now in the future."

Nehammer said he thinks an international investigation is "necessary" and that he tried to convince Putin of that.

"It was a tough discussion," he said, adding: "But I tried to convince him that, for example, the former Yugoslavian war showed us that international investigation is useful to prosecute the war criminals."

Many Western leaders, including President Joe Biden, have called on Putin and Russia to be investigated over reports of potential war crimes and atrocities committed by Russian forces in Ukraine.

Rep. Ilhan Omar and other lawmakers this week called on the US to join the International Criminal Court, an international body based in The Hague, Netherlands, that investigates genocides, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

Calls for a war crimes investigation grew louder after Russian forces retreated from the areas around Kyiv earlier this month and revealed devastated Ukrainian towns, along with reports of Russian troops murdering and raping civilians.

There have also been reports of at least one incident in which Ukrainian forces may have committed a war crime, with video emerging last week that appeared to show Ukrainian troops executing a captured Russian soldier.

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