U.S. Claims Russian Forces Committed War Crimes in Ukraine

President of Russia Vladimir Putin. Photo: Kremlin (file photo)
President of Russia Vladimir Putin. Photo: Kremlin (file photo)

By RMN News Service

The U.S. authorities have declared that in their ongoing attacks on Ukraine, the Russian forces have committed war crimes. In a statement released on March 23, the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the Russian President Vladimir Putin has unleashed unrelenting violence that has caused death and destruction across Ukraine.  

The U.S. claims it has seen numerous credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities. Russia’s forces have destroyed apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping centers, and ambulances, leaving thousands of innocent civilians killed or wounded.  

Meanwhile, the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on 16 March in The Hague that Russia must immediately suspend military operations in Ukraine.

By a vote of 13 to two, with Vice-President Kirill Gevorgian of Russia and Judge Xue Hanqin of China dissenting, the ICJ ruled that Russia “shall immediately suspend the military operations that it commenced on 24 February.”

According to the UN, the court’s ruling – the first such verdict handed down by the ‘world court’ since the Russian invasion began – is in response to a suit filed by Ukraine on 27 February. Ukraine has accused Russia of manipulating the concept of genocide to justify its military aggression.

The U.S. State Department says that many of the sites Russia’s forces have hit have been clearly identifiable as in-use by civilians. This includes the Mariupol maternity hospital, as the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressly noted in a March 11 report.  

It also includes a strike that hit a Mariupol theater, clearly marked with the word “дети” — Russian for “children” — in huge letters visible from the sky. Putin’s forces used these same tactics in Grozny, Chechnya, and Aleppo, Syria, where they intensified their bombardment of cities to break the will of the people.  

Their attempt to do so in Ukraine has again shocked the world and, as President Zelenskyy has soberly attested, “bathed the people of Ukraine in blood and tears.”

Every day that Russia’s forces continue their brutal attacks, the number of innocent civilians killed and wounded, including women and children, climbs. 

As of March 22, officials in besieged Mariupol said that more than 2,400 civilians had been killed in that city alone. Not including the Mariupol devastation, the United Nations has officially confirmed more than 2,500 civilian casualties, including dead and wounded, and emphasizes the actual toll is likely higher.

“Last week, I echoed President Biden’s statement, based on the countless accounts and images of destruction and suffering we have all seen, that war crimes had been committed by Putin’s forces in Ukraine,” Blinken said.  “I noted then that the deliberate targeting of civilians is a war crime. I emphasized that the Department of State and other U.S. government experts were documenting and assessing potential war crimes in Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, there is a growing demand from the world community for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to pursue Putin for his unprovoked attack on Ukraine.

According to a CCN report of March 23, the top war crimes prosecutor for the ICC has traveled to Ukraine to investigate and the US Embassy in Kyiv argued earlier in the war that specific Russian attacks constituted war crimes.

The U.S. State Department further asserts that, based on information currently available, the U.S. government assesses that members of Russia’s forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine.

The U.S. assessment is based on a review of available information from public and intelligence sources. As with any alleged crime, a court of law with jurisdiction over the crime is ultimately responsible for determining criminal guilt in specific cases.  The U.S. government says it will continue to track reports of war crimes and will share information it gathers with allies, partners, and international institutions and organizations. 

The U.S. statement adds that to ensure accountability, the U.S. may also explore the pursuance of criminal prosecutions in this case.

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