London – Gordon Brown and Sir John Major want a new international tribunal to be set up to investigate Vladimir Putin for his actions in Ukraine.
The former prime ministers are among 140 academics, lawyers and politicians to sign a petition calling for a legal system modelled on the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals after World War Two.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is already investigating Mr Putin for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
But some say its powers are limited.
The ICC cannot pursue the crime of aggression without a referral from the UN security council, which Russia could veto.
Former Labour prime minister Brown told the BBC that since the fall of the Berlin Wall “we’ve assumed that democracy and the rule of law will prevail”, but that Putin “is replacing that by the use of force”.
“If the message is not sent out now then we face aggression in other countries which may go unpunished as well,” he told Radio 4’s Today programme.
Asked if he considered the Russian president to be a war criminal, he replied: “That’s what President Biden said, and that’s my view.”
United States President Joe Biden this week called Putin a “war criminal” for the first time.
The Kremlin denounced the comments as “unacceptable and unforgiveable rhetoric”. Other leaders to accuse Russia of carrying out war crimes include Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Brown said the war had seen the indiscriminate bombing of civilians, which is against international law, as well as breaches of humanitarian ceasefires and “nuclear blackmail”. (BBC)