US formally accuses Russia of crimes against humanity in Ukraine, Harris says

Source: Politico | February 18, 2023 | Alex Ward

The vice president told the Munich Security Conference that the US will hold guilty Russians and ‘their superiors’ accountable.

MUNICH — The United States has determined that Russia is committing crimes against humanity in Ukraine, Vice President Kamala Harris announced Saturday, the latest salvo in the West’s effort to hold Moscow accountable for its wartime atrocities.

In a marquee address at the Munich Security Conference, Harris detailed that Russia is responsible for a “widespread and systematic attack” against Ukraine’s civilian population, citing evidence of execution-style killings, rape, torture and forceful deportations — sometimes perpetrated against children. As a result, Russia has not only committed war crimes, as the administration formally concluded in March, but also illegal acts against non-combatants.

“Their actions are an assault on our common values, an attack on our common humanity,” the vice president said, referencing images of bodies lying in the streets of Bucha and the sexual assault of a four-year-old girl by a Russian soldier. “Barbaric and inhumane.”

Harris then declared: “The United States has formally determined that Russia has committed crimes against humanity.”

The Biden administration will continue to assist Ukraine in its investigation into these alleged crimes, she said, vowing that the perpetrators and “their superiors” will be “held to account.” 

She added: “Let us all agree: on behalf of all the victims, both known and unknown: justice must be served.”

The declaration is among the most forceful yet from a Western power as allies grapple with how to punish Russians responsible for violations. And it escalates the judicial side of America’s support for Ukraine, which has long said Russia was guilty of these crimes and that Russian President Vladimir Putin was ultimately responsible.


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