Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
On Wednesday important departments within the U.S. government intensified their allegations as the Departments of State and Defense echoed the president’s claims that Russian leader Vladimir Putin is a war criminal.
The Department of State’s stance, which took the form of an official statement from Secretary of State Antony Blinken, was particularly important as, on the geopolitical stage, this formalized the United States’ accusations.
“We’ve seen numerous credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities,” Blinken said.
Among the crimes Blinken listed were the bombings of apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping centers, and ambulances.
This was all in keeping with Russia’s recent history of dealing with adversaries, Blinken said.
“Putin’s forces used these same tactics in Grozny, Chechnya, and Aleppo, Syria, where they intensified their bombardment of cities to break the will of the people,” Blinken said. “Their attempt to do so in Ukraine has again shocked the world and, as President Zelenskyy has soberly attested, ‘bathed the people of Ukraine in blood and tears.’”
At the Pentagon, Press Secretary John Kirby affirmed the Department of Defense’s position that Russia was guilty of war crimes.
“Clearly, there are civilian casualties,” Kirby said during a press conference. “And clearly, they’re mounting every day, because of the indiscriminate attacks that the Russians are conducting, because of what we see is intentional now.”
Kirby predicted these attacks would only grow as Russian forces “become more frustrated, and rely more on long range fires, and intentional targeting of civilians, and civilian infrastructure.”
It’s likely not a coincidence that the State Department formalized its accusations on the eve of President Biden’s visit to Europe, where he will meet with world leaders and recommend the further expansion of sanctions on Russia.
What is less clear is what, if anything, will come of these accusations. A war crime is not an abstract idea; it is an authentic crime against humanity punishable by death, and a credible court must be used to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused.
Blinken indicated the U.S. was open to pursuing such a course of action.
“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 said. “The U.S. 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.”
Ambassador at Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack provides background on the assessment that Russia forces are committing war crimes in Ukraine. “We are committed to pursuing full accountability for war crimes in Ukraine using all of the tools available to us.” pic.twitter.com/KA0mcv2lBx
— Department of State (@StateDept) March 23, 2022