The US government has formally declared that members of the Russian armed forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Wednesday.
The official US declaration that Moscow has violated the laws of conflict comes after Blinken, President Joe Biden and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman all said it was their personal opinion that war crimes have taken place.
“Today, I can announce that, based on information currently available, the US government assesses that members of Russia’s forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine,” Blinken said in a statement.
“Our assessment is based on a careful review of available information from public and intelligence sources,” he said.
“As with any alleged crime, a court of law with jurisdiction over the crime is ultimately responsible for determining criminal guilt in specific cases,” Blinken continued. “The US government will continue to track reports of war crimes and will share information we gather with allies, partners, and international institutions and organizations, as appropriate. We are committed to pursuing accountability using every tool available, including criminal prosecutions.”
Blinken’s statement cited “credible reports” of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, including the destruction of apartment buildings, schools and hospitals. The State Department specifically cited attacks on a maternity hospital and theater in Mariupol. The theater, the State Department said, was marked with the Russian word for “children” in letters visible from the sky.
Last week, Biden accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of war crimes. “I think he is a war criminal,” Biden said after remarks at the White House.
This story is breaking and will be updated.