Updated Mar 23, 2022 - Politics & Policy

U.S. government accuses Russian forces of war crimes in Ukraine

Photo of Antony Blinken speaking from a podium

Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo: Valeria Mongelli/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. has assessed that Russia's forces are committing war crimes in Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Wednesday.

Driving the news: "We’ve seen numerous credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities," Blinken said in a statement. "We are committed to pursuing accountability using every tool available, including criminal prosecutions."

  • "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. Many of the sites Russia’s forces have hit have been clearly identifiable as in-use by civilians."
  • "As of March 22, officials in besieged Mariupol said that more than 2,400 civilians had been killed in that city alone," Blinken noted. Excluding the devastation in Mariupol, the UN has officially confirmed over 2,500 civilian casualties. The actual toll is likely higher.
  • "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 big picture: Earlier this month, the International Criminal Court launched an investigation into allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide committed in Ukraine.

Go deeper: What counts as a war crime and why they're so hard to prosecute

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