U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Thursday that Russia is committing “war crimes” in Ukraine, becoming the highest-ranking American official to make the accusation.
Thomas-Greenfield said in an interview with BBC Newshour that it’s clear Russia is attacking civilians in a manner that “cannot be justified by any way,” constituting war crimes.
Her comments came hours after Vice President Kamala Harris came just short of declaring Russia’s actions war crimes, saying at a press briefing in Poland on Thursday that there should “absolutely” be an investigation into potential war crimes.
The White House has criticized Russian attacks as “atrocities” but has been careful about alleging war crimes, with Press Secretary Jen Psaki saying Thursday the Biden Administration was waiting for a “legal assessment” before making any war crimes claim.
Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, have repeatedly accused Russia of war crimes since it launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
“I still see images of women being rolled out of a hospital, pregnant, bleeding, people screaming, children crying. It is just unconscionable,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
An International Criminal Court investigation of Russian attacks in Ukraine is under way, but the process of verifying evidence on the ground and then prosecuting cases is expected to be an extremely slow, if not entirely impossible, process. That hasn’t stopped officials and commentators around the world from accusing Russia of war crimes, though. Troves of photos and videos appear to show Russian forces have targeted civilian infrastructure, including apartment buildings, shopping malls and hospitals, since the invasion started two weeks ago. Russia’s also used cluster munitions and thermobaric weapons, also known as vacuum bombs, in Ukraine, which are banned from use against civilian targets by the Geneva Convention. War crimes are a broadly defined term in international law that includes deliberately targeting civilians.
Psaki on Wednesday warned that Russia appeared to be setting the stage for use of chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine.
Kamala Harris Adds To Support For Russian War Crimes Investigation—Here’s Why Putin’s Unlikely To Face Consequences (Forbes)
Russia Has Used Thermobaric Weapons In Ukraine, U.K. Says (Forbes)