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US supports bid to document Ukraine damages for reparations

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The United States is throwing its support behind a bid to document damages from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which hopes the effort will lead to post-war reparations, according to a letter seen Friday by AFP.

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The UN General Assembly in a non-binding November vote backed the idea of an “international register” that would document damages across Ukraine from the war unleashed by Russia in February 2022.

Earlier this year, Marija Pejcinovic Buric, the head of the Council of Europe, proposed that the Strasbourg-based group take the lead on the register.

The 46-nation Council, founded in 1949, seeks to uphold democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Its members are holding a meeting Tuesday in Reykjavik devoted mostly to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In a letter ahead of the meeting, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations who will represent Washington, an observer to the Council, at the summit, said the United States would provide funding and serve as an “associate member” of the nascent register.

“As President Biden has stated, the United States has committed to holding Russia accountable for its war of aggression against Ukraine,” Thomas-Greenfield wrote in a letter to Buric seen by AFP.

“Establishing a Register of Damage to document claims of damage from Russia's brutal war is a critical step in this effort,” she wrote.

The World Bank estimated in March that Ukraine’s reconstruction and recovery needs amounted to $411 billion, 2.6 times the country's estimated 2022 gross domestic product.

The United States in March also voiced support for another international effort on Ukraine -- a special tribunal to consider the crime of aggression.

Ahead of her trip, Thomas-Greenfield spoke by telephone on Friday with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

The US ambassador discussed efforts to renew a UN-backed deal to ensure exports of grain from Ukraine, a key breadbasket, said her spokesman, Nate Evans.

After negotiations led by Turkey and the United Nations, Russia in July agreed to the initiative which ensures shipments from Black Sea ports but has not committed to a new renewal next week.

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