Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. government has assessed that Russia is committing war crimes in Ukraine, attacking civilian points such as this school destroyed in Kharkiv.
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. government has assessed that Russia is committing war crimes in Ukraine, attacking civilian points such as this school destroyed in Kharkiv.

The U.S. government is officially declaring that Russian military forces, led by President Vladimir Putin, have committed war crimes in Ukraine by hitting civilian targets, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday.

The attacks on Ukraine have been ongoing for nearly a month and have resulted in nearly 5,000 civilian causalities, the statement said. Russian troops have targeted areas where civilians are present, including apartment buildings, schools and hospitals.

"Last week, I echoed President Biden's statement, based on the countless accounts and images of destruction and suffering we have all seen, that war crimes had been committed by Putin's forces in Ukraine," Blinken said in a statement.

"Today, I can announce that, based on information currently available, the U.S. government assesses that members of Russia's forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine," Blinken added.

A week ago, President Biden was asked by reporters whether he was ready to call Russian President Putin a war criminal.

"I think he is a war criminal," Biden said.

On Wednesday, Blinken specifically mentioned Russia's recent attacks on a maternity hospital and a theater in Mariupol that was specifically marked with the Russian word for children, written in huge letters visible from the sky.

"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.

He added that a court of law with proper jurisdiction is the only way to determine guilt. But the U.S. government will continue to track reports of war crimes and is "committed to pursuing accountability," he said.

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