The United Nations has officially confirmed more than 2,500 civilian casualties, including dead and injured, and stressed that the true toll is likely higher, the US secretary of state said.
File image of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. AFP
Washington: Russian military forces, led by President Vladimir Putin, have committed war crimes in Ukraine by striking civilian targets and unleashing relentless violence that has caused death and destruction across the war-torn country, said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
On February 24, 2022, Russian forces launched military operations in Ukraine, three days after Moscow recognized the breakaway regions of Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk, as independent entities.
Russian troops have targeted areas with civilians, including apartment buildings, schools and hospitals.
“Today I can announce that, based on information currently available, the U.S. government believes that members of Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine,” Blinken said on March 23, 2022.
“Our assessment is based on a careful review of available information from public and intelligence sources. As with any alleged crime, a court of competent jurisdiction is ultimately responsible for determining criminal culpability in specific cases,” a- he declared.
Since launching his unprovoked and unjust war of choice, Russian President Vladimir Putin has unleashed relentless violence that has caused death and destruction across Ukraine, he said.
“We have seen many credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities. Russian forces destroyed apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping malls and ambulances, killing or injuring thousands of innocent civilians,” Blinken said.
Blinken alleged that each day that Russian forces continue their brutal attacks, the number of innocent civilians killed and injured, including women and children, increases.
The announcement comes a week after Joe Biden’s off-the-cuff remark that he considered Putin a war criminal, sparking an official protest from the Kremlin, which warned the comment could cause a rift in bilateral relations.
As of March 22, 2022, officials in beleaguered Mariupol say more than 2,400 civilians have been killed in that city alone. Not counting the devastation in Mariupol, the United Nations has officially confirmed more than 2,500 civilian casualties, including dead and injured, and stressed that the true toll is likely higher, he said.
Later, Beth Van Schaack, Goodwill Ambassador for Global Criminal Justice, told reporters that the US government would continue to monitor reports of war crimes from Ukraine and would share this information with friends and allies and with international and multilateral institutions, as appropriate.
“We also support the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office and its War Crimes Directorate, and support civil society documentation efforts,” she said.
Responding to a question, she said the United States would consider all options available to it, including domestic courts.
“Obviously we have the courts in Ukraine even as a territorial state, and the attorney general’s office has a war crimes directorate. Some Global Criminal Justice Office funding supports efforts to build capacity within that office and help them deal with these cases ultimately if and when they have custody of particular perpetrators,” he said. she declared.
“Furthermore, third-party states in the region that might gain custody of the perpetrators or potentially be able to try in absentia would have jurisdiction over war crimes committed in Ukraine. And then we welcomed the fact that the new new prosecutor of the International Criminal Court also opened an investigation into the situation in Ukraine,” she added.
On March 3, 2022, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court opened an investigation that could target senior officials allegedly responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide in the context of an increase in the number of civilian deaths and widespread destruction of property during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
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