The United States denounces for the first time “crimes against humanity” in Ukraine

The United States denounces for the first time


U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris has accused Russia of committing 'crimes against humanity' for the first time since its invasion of Ukraine began it almost a year ago.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Ms. Harris, a former prosecutor, gave a chilling enumeration of abuses attributed to Russia, citing systematic bombings targeting civilians and critical infrastructure, torture and rape attributed to Russian soldiers , the deportations of Ukrainians to Russia, including thousands of children, separated from their families.

“We have looked at the evidence, we know the legal standards and there is no doubt : these are crimes against humanity,” she said during a speech.

“And I say to all those who perpetrated these crimes and to their superiors or accomplices in these crimes: you will account for them,” she warned.

Since the start of the invasion, the United States has documented or cataloged more than 30,600 cases of war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine, the US State Department reports.

“There there can be no impunity for these crimes”, insisted the head of the American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, in a separate press release.

“As long as it takes”

Kyiv has called for a special tribunal to try top Russian officials, but its exact form raises complex legal issues.

In tune with her allies, the American vice-president also reaffirmed that the United States – by far Kyiv's main arms supplier – would support this country “as long as it takes”, and she underlined another time the strength of the transatlantic bond and of NATO vis-à-vis Russia.

Earlier, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned of a defeat for Ukraine.

“The biggest risk of all is that Putin wins. If Putin wins in Ukraine, the message for him and other authoritarian leaders will be that they can use force to get what they want,” he warned.

The Kremlin is mobilizing “hundreds of thousands of troops” and getting “more weapons from authoritarian countries such as Iran and North Korea”, he said.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has called for “redoubled efforts” in military aid to Ukraine, in order to “derail the imperialist plans of [Vladimir] Putin”.

Almost a year after the launch of the Russian invasion on February 24, 2022, there is no sign of appeasement in sight. Russian troops have seized almost a fifth of Ukrainian territory, the fighting has claimed tens of thousands of victims on both sides, and NATO fears a new large-scale offensive from Moscow soon.

Fear of a long war

“Our priority is to guarantee Ukraine's strength on the ground,” argued Ms. Harris.

The day before, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had said they feared a long war on the first day of the Conference.

The President of the Commission particularly insisted on an acceleration of the production of standard armaments, such as ammunition, which Kyïv “desperately needs”.

“It is not possible that we have to wait months, years before we are able to restock ourselves” to deliver this material to Ukraine, she hammered.

EU members are currently exploring ways to conduct joint ammunition purchases for Ukraine, according to diplomatic sources in Brussels.

The US military on Friday announced a contract worth nearly $1 billion to increase production of 155mm caliber artillery ammunition, which is used in large quantities by Ukraine.

The Allies are supporting Ukraine with financial and military aid – including including with Western-made heavy tanks, even if they are slow to arrive on the ground – as well as with sweeping economic sanctions against Russia.

In Munich, the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, indicated that the next international conference on the reconstruction of Ukraine will take place in June, in London.

Ukraine is also crying out for combat aircraft from the Allies, who remain reluctant at this stage.