Former Russian leader says any attempt to threaten a nuclear nation is a risky business
The West should be wary of Russia's nuclear arsenal when talking about holding a "War Crimes" tribunal against Moscow, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has urged. He made the statement during a speech at the Saint Petersburg international legal forum on Thursday.
"Do these countries and politicians really believe in the possibility of holding a criminal tribunal against a country that possesses the world's largest nuclear arsenal?" asked Medvedev during the forum, adding that "I'm not even talking about the practical benefits of such steps. It's just nonsense, let's face it."
He went on to question why the US, for example, has never faced the condemnation of the international community over its own military interventions. "I can't recall a single successful attempt to hold such a trial for the numerous military campaigns conducted by the USA in the 20th and 21st century," he said.
Although the International Criminal Court has officially launched criminal probes into alleged war crimes committed on the territory of Afghanistan, including by the US and its allies, those efforts have ultimately failed to result in any sort of trial. Moreover, after years of obstruction by the US, the lead ICC prosecutor Karim Khan, announced last year that his investigation will focus solely on crimes committed by the Taliban and the Islamic State.
The former president insisted that Washington's "to put it mildly, illegal actions" have served to build an "Anglo-Saxon-style democracy on the bones of the civilian populations of Korea, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan."
Medvedev, who now serves as deputy chair of the Security Council of Russia, noted that Russia is a country that "stood at the origins of building the current world order and forming the legal foundation for the establishment of international organizations" such as the ones who have called for a tribunal to judge the Russian government.
His response comes after a heated session of the UN security council earlier this week, where Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky appeared via video link and accused Russia of targeting civilians amid the ongoing military conflict between Moscow and Kiev.
Zelensky called for Russia to be declared a "terrorist state" and expelled from both the council and the UN outright. He also insisted that an international tribunal be set up to try the Russian government over what he called a "full-scale war of conquest."
Zelensky's calls were supported by representatives of Poland, Estonia and the UK, however expelling Russia from the Security council or the UN is virtually impossible as it is a permanent member of the organization and has the power to veto such a decision.
Moscow has vehemently denied targeting civilians during the course of its special operation in the country, and has accused Kiev of waging a propaganda war in order to obtain more weapons and financial aid from the West.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev's failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev's main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and "create powerful armed forces."
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.