US Rebukes Russia for Crimes Against Humanity in Ukraine


The U.S. officially declared that Russia has committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine.

In a landmark speech Saturday at the Munich Security Conference, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor, offered a detailed account of the egregious crimes committed by Russia against Ukraine’s civilian population.

Harris cited evidence, including the scores of victims found in Bucha shortly after Russia’s invasion last February; the March 9 bombing of a Mariupol maternity hospital that killed three people, including a child; and the sexual assault of a 4-year-old by a Russian soldier identified by a U.N. report. She condemned these actions as “barbaric and inhumane.”

Harris said the U.S. will continue to help Ukraine further investigate such crimes.

“And I say to all those who have perpetrated these crimes, and to their superiors who are complicit in these crimes, you will be held to account,” Harris said.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, who is attending the conference, had praise for Harris’ words.

“The vice president’s speech today was one of the most consequential speeches ever made in the Munich Security Conference,” Graham told reporters in Munich.

“The Chinese said something today that was very important … they reject the idea of nuclear weapons being used in the conflict,” he said of the war in Ukraine. “Between what the Chinese said and what the vice president said, this is a bad day for Russia.”

Ukraine Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova hailed Harris’ declaration during an interview Saturday with Tatiana Vorozhko of VOA’s Ukrainian service.

“Whether it’s war crimes in Ukraine, whether it’s a crime of aggression, whether it’s the genocide and or other crimes that Russia committed in Ukraine, it’s very important for Ukraine to hold them accountable,” she said. “But I think it’s very important for all of us — and this is what Madam Vice President clearly said — that they have to be held accountable for these horrible crimes. And it’s important for everyone who believes in the same values.”

In addition to the evidence Harris presented Saturday, The Conflict Observatory, a program supported by the U.S. Department of State, released an independent report detailing a network of Russia-run sites and processes used to relocate thousands of Ukraine’s children to areas under Russian government control.

“Mounting evidence of Russia’s actions lays bare the Kremlin’s aims to deny and suppress Ukraine’s identity, history, and culture,” the statement read. “The devastating impacts of Putin’s war on Ukraine’s children will be felt for generations. The United States will stand with Ukraine and pursue accountability for Russia’s appalling abuses for as long as it takes.”

While crimes against humanity are not officially codified in an international treaty, they are still adjudicated in the International Criminal Court and other global bodies, according to the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention.

“In contrast with genocide, crimes against humanity do not need to target a specific group,” the U.N. said. “Instead, the victim of the attack can be any civilian population, regardless of its affiliation or identity.”

In the U.S. on Friday, the U.S. senators from the state of West Virginia, Joe Manchin, a Democrat, and Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, introduced on Friday a bipartisan resolution recognizing Russia’s war in Ukraine as genocide.

“Putin’s unprovoked invasion and terrible acts of war have amounted to a genocide against the Ukrainian people,” Manchin said. “It is our responsibility as a world power and democratic leader to support our allies in times of need and we must hold Russia accountable for its continued atrocities against Ukraine. Our bipartisan resolution is an important step towards recognizing the depths of Russia’s war crimes and reaffirming America’s commitment to support the Ukrainian people as they defend their country from tyranny.”

Bakhmut offensive

Ukrainian soldiers holding off a Russian offensive on the small eastern city of Bakhmut are pleading for more weapons.

“Give us more military equipment, more weapons, and we will deal with the Russian occupier, we will destroy them,” said Dmytro, a serviceman standing in the snow near Bakhmut, Reuters reported.

Russian rockets and artillery pummeled a residential district in the city Thursday, killing three men and two women and wounding nine, Ukraine’s prosecutor general said.

Russian troops have been trying to take Bakhmut for months, and the city, which once had 70,000 inhabitants, is under near-constant shelling.

“If you are rational, law-abiding and patriotic citizens, you should leave the city immediately,” said Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk. She made the appeal via the Telegram messaging app Friday to what is believed to be about 6,000 people still in the city, in the Donetsk region.

EU urges speedy munitions delivery

In his speech to the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urged world leaders to provide additional arms and security guarantees to protect Ukraine and the rest of Europe from Russian aggression now and in the future.

“Now is the moment to double down on our military support,” Sunak said.

The European Union is urgently exploring ways for its member countries to team up to buy munitions to help Ukraine, following warnings from Kyiv that its forces need more supplies quickly, diplomats and officials said.

EU foreign ministers are expected to discuss the idea of joint procurement of 155-millimeter artillery shells — badly needed by Kyiv — at a meeting in Brussels on Monday.

“It is now the time, really, to speed up the production, and to scale up the production of standardized products that Ukraine needs desperately,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

According to Reuters, the war in Ukraine has killed tens of thousands, uprooted millions from their homes, pummeled the global economy and made Putin a pariah in the West.

The governor of Luhansk, one of two provinces in what is known as the Donbas, said ground and air attacks were increasing.

“Today it is rather difficult on all directions,” Serhiy Haidai told local TV. “There are constant attempts to break through our defense lines,” he said of fighting near the city of Kreminna.

The British Defense Ministry said Saturday in its daily intelligence update about Ukraine that it has become “increasingly difficult” for the Kremlin to insulate the Russian population from the war in Ukraine.

“A December 2022 Russian poll reported that 52% had either a friend or relative who had served in the so-called Special Military Operation,” the ministry said.__VOA News