Greece seeks war crimes probe in besieged Ukrainian port of Mariupol


ATHENS, April 7 (Reuters) - Greece will ask the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged war crimes in the Russian-besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, home to a large Greek community, its foreign minister said on Thursday.


Mariupol, an industrial port city close to the eastern breakaway Donetsk People's Republic, had a pre-war population of around 400,000, but the city has been devastated by regular bombardment since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.


Tens of thousands are trapped, according to the general staff of the Ukrainian armed forces.

"Greece has a specific, special interest in Mariupol because of the existence of 100,000 and more Greek community," Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias told reporters upon arriving at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.


Dendias said he would also urge his colleagues to "try our best" to help Ukraine protect its historic Black Sea port of Odesa, "so Odesa can avoid the fate of Mariupol".


The Greek Foreign Minister visited Odesa last weekend.


U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of war crimes in Ukraine and called for a trial. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters the United States would build a case at the ICC or another venue. The United States is not a party to the ICC.


Russia denies accusations of targeting civilians and says it is engaged in a "special military operation" designed to demilitarise and "denazify" Ukraine. Kyiv and its Western allies reject that as a false pretext for invasion.