By Glenn Wickman • 18 February 2023 • 19:49
US vice-president Kamala Harris. Image by Sheila Fitzgerald/Shutterstock
Speaking at a security conference in Munich today (Saturday), Harris confirmed that the Biden administration has “examined the evidence” of the Russian army’s actions during the year-long invasion and that the perpetrators of the crimes “will be held to account”.
The definition of crimes against humanity is reportedly reserved for the “most egregious” types of offence, and in this case are “part of the Kremlin’s widespread and systematic attack against Ukraine’s civilian population”, the CNN quoted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken as saying.
Both the US government and the UN had previously revealed that Russia had committed war crimes in the country, but this week’s declaration, which includes accusations of murder and rape against civilians, is seen by international law as a more severe offence.
Harris stated examples of incidents that shocked and repulsed the world, including the bombing of a maternity hospital and of a theatre in Mariupol that left hundreds dead, the indiscriminate murder of passers-by on the streets of Bucha, and the sexual assault of a four-year-old girl by a Russian soldier.
Although the vice-president’s statement is said to be mainly symbolic and with no immediate practical effects, Washington hopes that it will galvanise international support and provide bodies such as the International Criminal Court with evidence to prosecute those responsible.
Official organisations have reportedly identified more than 30,000 suspected cases of war crimes since the invasion began last year.
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