The Biden administration on Wednesday officially accused Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine, TURAN’s Washington correspondent reports.
“Today, I can announce that, based on information currently available, the U.S. government assesses that members of Russia’s forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
“Our assessment is based on a careful review of available information from public and intelligence sources. As with any alleged crime, a court of law with jurisdiction over the crime is ultimately responsible for determining criminal guilt in specific cases,” he noted.
In reaching this conclusion, the State Department cited Russia’s destruction of schools and apartment buildings, a maternity hospital in Mariupol and a theater that was surrounded with “children” in Russian writing visible from the sky.
“Putin’s forces used these same tactics in Grozny, Chechnya, and Aleppo, Syria, where they intensified their bombardment of cities to break the will of the people,” Blinken noted. “Many of the sites Russia’s forces have hit have been clearly identifiable as in-use by civilians.”
It was unclear though if the Biden administration can take specific actions in response to the determination of war crimes, as prosecution of “war crimes” typically involves a vigorous legal process, and international investigators are already beginning to look at Russia’s conduct during its invasion of Ukraine.
However, as TURAN’s correspondent was told by several Washington analysts, the U.S. assessment is likely to further ratchet up pressure to isolate Moscow from the international community and could further galvanize support for Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials already claim that Russia has used white phosphorus, raising concerns that Moscow won’t be shy about using other chemical weapons as the rages on.
Speaking to reporters before hopping on “Marine One” on his way to Brussels, President Biden said on Wednesday that the possibility of Russia using chemical weapons in Ukraine is “a real threat.”
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, in his tern, told reporters that Biden “will obviously consult on potential contingencies: the possibility of cyberattacks by Russia against the U.S. or other Allied and partner countries, the possibility of the use of chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, the possibility of escalation in the conflict in other ways.”