National | Jacinda Ardern

Putin to be prosecuted before political parties call him a war criminal

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is confident the evidence coming out of Ukraine suggests war crimes have been committed but declined to follow US President Joe Biden's lead in calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a war criminal.

“Every piece of evidence points to the fact that there are war crimes being committed by Russia in Ukraine at the hands of the president, Vladimir Putin,” she said.

Although acknowledging that war crimes were being committed against Ukrainians, neither the Prime Minister nor opposition leaders would go as far as to call Putin a war criminal.

“Ultimately, it’s for the International Criminal Court to make that determination but the evidence is there and New Zealand is supporting the prosecutors and gathering that evidence and making sure Russia is held to account, Ardern said.

That's something National leader Christopher Luxon agrees with: “Officially you have to be prosecuted and convicted before you get labelled a criminal. But I have to say to you the evidence is pretty compelling.”

Just last week, former defence minister and returned serviceman Ron Mark was calling for more New Zealanders to consider supporting humanitarian efforts as the crisis continues in Ukraine.

Putin doing business

“What we're witnessing is appalling. But it is the way that Putin and Russia do business” he said

With Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta now extending the list of Russian oligarchs who have been sanctioned,  National says more needs to be done.

Luxon said New Zealand needed to "focus on our core competencies and what our advantages are and what we can do to help.

"There are more resourced countries that can add something different. Offering humanitarian aid and supporting services as we are is entirely appropriate.”

The list of New Zealand sanctions are still being reviewed, adding more pressure on Russia, WTW/TAM