U.S. government accuses Russian forces of war crimes in Ukraine
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.
- Democratic Reps. Ted Lieu and Eric Swalwell of California have also asked U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate whether Russia has committed war crimes.
- More than 3.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine, while millions more remain displaced and trapped inside the country.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday that about 100,000 people are enduring "inhumane conditions" in Mariupol, which State Department spokesperson Ned Price called "the epicenter of President Putin's brutality" at a briefing on Wednesday.