The U.S. government on Wednesday officially labeled as “war crimes” the actions carried out by Russian troops in Ukraine since now a month ago for “unrelenting violence,” “indiscriminate attacks” and other “atrocities” directed “deliberately against civilians.”
“Since launching his unjust and unprovoked war, Russian President Vladimir Putin has unleashed unrelenting violence that has caused death and destruction throughout Ukraine,” the statement from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken begins.
“Based on currently available information, the U.S. Government notes that members of Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine,” Blinken remarked, citing “numerous reports” of indiscriminate and deliberately targeted attacks on civilians.”
“Russian forces have destroyed apartments, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping centers and ambulances, leaving thousands of innocent people dead or wounded,” Blinken listed, citing, for example, the shelling of a maternity hospital in Mariupol and a theater that served as a shelter in the same city. Both attacks have been denied by Russia.
“Putin’s forces have used these same tactics in Grozny, Chechnya and Aleppo in Syria, where they intensified shelling to bend the will of the people. Their attempt to do so in Ukraine has again shocked the world,” the White House chief diplomat has assured.
“Every day that Russia’s forces continue their brutal attacks, the number of innocent civilians killed and wounded, including women and children, increases. As of March 22 (…) the United Nations has officially confirmed more than 2,500 civilian casualties, including dead and wounded, the real number is probably higher,” Blinken noted.
Finally, Blinken pointed out that this decision to qualify as “war crimes” the actions of the Russian troops are based on a “careful review of the information available from public and intelligence sources” and that like any alleged crime, it will be the courts who will determine guilt or not.
“The U.S. Government will continue to track reports of war crimes and will share the information it collects with its allies, partners, and international institutions and organizations. We are committed to pursuing accountability using all available tools, including criminal prosecutions,” he emphasized in conclusion.