The 46 Member States of the Council of Europe have committed to creating a centralised register to help record damages committed by Russia during its invasion of Ukraine.
The move was announced on Wednesday following a summit of heads of state of members of the Council of Europe in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Leaders from Iceland, the Netherlands and Ukraine announced the creation of the register intended to hold Russia accountable for its destruction of infrastructure and reimburse victims for losses caused by military aggression.
“Support and solidarity with Ukraine is one of the main priorities of the Icelandic Presidency [of the Council of Europe (CoE)] and we have worked hard to ensure that the outcome of the Reykjavik Summit addresses the need for comprehensive accountability for Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” said Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland.
According to Marija Pejčinović, Secretary General of the CoE, the register will support victim in recording material and immaterial losses caused by Russia’s invasion, which would form the basis of any future compensation mechanism. This is one of the first legally binding decisions made by the CoE to hold Russia to account.
Present at the summit, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo hailed the decision as an important milestone in the establishment of means to reimburse victims of Russia’s war. In an address to the Council, De Croo restated his support for human rights and holding Russia to account.
“The Council of Europe is making a decisive contribution to the establishment of an International Compensation Mechanism. I am proud that Belgium is a founding member of this Register. Belgium will participate fully in this initiative,” he told heads of state. “We must have the courage to assert loud and clear the values for which we are ready to fight, and to denounce with conviction the abuses and transgressions that we will not tolerate.”
The creation of the register was applauded by Ukrainian officials, who were present for the Summit. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal expressed his gratitude to the Council and invited other countries across the world to join the register.
The register will be established for a period of three years and will catalogue damages, losses, and injuries caused by Russia’s invasion, which it first launched in February 2022. The documentation will be administered from The Hague in the Netherlands.
As part of the CoE’s “Resolution on the Enlarged Partial Agreement”, which intends for Russia to pay full reparations to Ukraine for damages, in accordance with international law. This includes by means of seized Russian assets held overseas.
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According to estimates published in the Kyiv School of Economics Institute’s annual report, after one year of Russia’s invasion, more than $143.8 billion of damages has been inflicted on Ukrainian infrastructure alone. Testament to Russia’s indiscriminate attacks against residential areas, by far the largest share of infrastructure damage is housing, accounting for $53.6 billion.
In total, 150,000 residential buildings have been damaged or destroyed by Russia's invasion. A further $36.2 billion of damage has been inflicted on other state infrastructure. The UN has officially verified 23,606 civilian casualties in Ukraine, however the true figure is likely to be much higher.