Russian forces and officials have committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine, US State Secretary Anthony Blinken has said in a statement.
“Based on a careful analysis of the law and available facts, I have determined that members of Russia’s forces and other Russian officials have committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine. Members of Russia’s forces have committed execution-style killings of Ukrainian men, women, and children; torture of civilians in detention through beatings, electrocution, and mock executions; rape; and, alongside other Russian officials, have deported hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians to Russia, including children who have been forcibly separated from their families. These acts are not random or spontaneous; they are part of the Kremlin’s widespread and systematic attack against Ukraine’s civilian population.
We reserve crimes against humanity determinations for the most egregious crimes. Today’s determination underlines staggering extent of the human suffering inflicted by Moscow on the Ukrainian civilian population. This determination also reflects the deep commitment of the United States to holding members of Russia’s forces and other Russian officials accountable for their atrocities against the people of Ukraine.
There can be no impunity for these crimes. All those responsible must be held accountable. As today’s determination shows, the United States will pursue justice for the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes,” the statement of US Department of State says.
The message was conveyed by VP Kamalla Harris at the Munich Security Conference.
“And I say to all those who have perpetrated these crimes, and to their superiors who are complicit in those crimes – you will be held to account,” Harris said.
Russian forces have committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine. On behalf of all the victims, known and unknown – justice must be served. pic.twitter.com/XLU4maEPTH
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) February 18, 2023
At the Munich Security Conference, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said that for a sustainable peace in Europe, Russians must be brought to accountability for Russia’s crimes in Ukraine, including through a tribunal like the one in Nuremberg for Nazi war criminals.
The State Department’s designation of Russia’s actions as crimes against humanity, which comes after a thorough examination, carries no immediate legal consequences. However, it could help galvanize a movement to bring Russian war criminals to accountability.
The European Commission is establishing a special office in The Hague to help prosecute Russia for crimes in Ukraine. However, the International Criminal Court in the Hague can judge Putin for war crimes, but not for aggression against Ukraine. This requires a separate court.