FedEx Establishes Direct Presence in Nigeria to Support Customers with International TradeRead more Open Society Foundations (OSF) Award $1.1 Million Grant to Afrobarometer to Spur Future GrowthRead more The annual Global Impact Conference 2022 brings together visionary business leaders to revolutionize educational systems and inspire collaborative actionRead more APO Group announces content partnership with Pan-African broadcaster VoxAfricaRead more MainOne, an Equinix Company’s MDXi Appolonia Achieves Tier III Constructed Facility certification (TCCF), Now Most Certified Data Center in GhanaRead more United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) warns rising tide of hunger, insecurity, and underfunding worsening gender-based violence risksRead more The Royal Thai Embassy presents the cultures of Thailand at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Festival in KenyaRead more Climate change is the biggest global threat, young people in Africa and Europe tell European Investment Bank (EIB), Debating Africa and Debating EuropeRead more $2 million in prizes awarded at Conference of the Parties (COP27) to African youth-led businessesRead more Africa and Europe’s top business and public sector leaders gather to chart Africa’s economic rebirthRead more

US sees ‘systemic’ war crimes by Russia in Ukraine

show caption
A local resident visits soldiers' graves on the Day of Dignity and Freedom at the Lychakiv Cemetery in Lviv, western Ukraine./AFP
Print Friendly and PDF

Nov 22, 2022 - 05:44 AM

WASHINGTON — Russians have murdered, tortured and kidnapped Ukrainians in a systematic pattern that could implicate top officials in war crimes, the US State Department’s ambassador for global criminal justice said Monday.

There is mounting evidence that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “has been accompanied by systemic war crimes committed in every region where Russian forces have been deployed,” said Ambassador at Large Beth Van Schaack.

Evidence from liberated areas indicates “deliberate, indiscriminate and disproportionate” attacks against civilian populations, custodial abuses of civilians and POWs, forceful removal, or filtration, of Ukrainian citizens — including children — to Russia, and execution-like murders and sexual violence, she told reporters.

“When we’re seeing such systemic acts, including the creation of a vast filtration network, it’s very hard to imagine how these crimes could be committed without responsibility going all the way up the chain of command,” she said.

Van Schaack represents the United States to global bodies investigating war crimes and other atrocities, and called the current situation a “new Nuremberg moment,” a reference to the war crimes trials held in the German city at the end of World War II.

She said in a briefing for reporters that Russia’s nine-month-old assault on Ukraine has sparked an “unprecedented array of accountability initiatives,” involving numerous bodies along with the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The bodies are coordinating to develop priorities and approaches “under all available jurisdictional bases,” she said.

Van Schaack  declined to say specifically if Russian President Vladimir Putin could be prosecuted for war crimes in Ukraine.

But she said prosecutors will “follow the evidence where it leads.”

Under international law, the doctrine of superior responsibility allows for prosecutions “to go all the way up the chain of command,” she said.

She also said that rights officials are looking closely at a video that emerged over the weekend that suggests Ukrainian troops may have killed Russian prisoners of war.

Russia said the deaths were “murder,” but Ukrainian Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets claimed that the prisoners opened fire on Ukrainian forces after surrendering, leading to their being killed by return fire.

“We are obviously tracking that quite closely. It’s really important to emphasize that the laws of war apply to all parties equally,” said Van Schaack.

Nevertheless, she added, “When we’re looking at the sheer scale of criminality exhibited by Russia’s forces, it’s enormous compared to the allegations that we have seen against Ukrainian forces.”

MAORANDCITIES.COM uses both Facebook and Disqus comment systems to make it easier for you to contribute. We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. All comments should be relevant to the topic. By posting, you agree to our Privacy Policy. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, name-calling, foul language or other inappropriate behavior. Please keep your comments relevant and respectful. By leaving the ‘Post to Facebook’ box selected – when using Facebook comment system – your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the “X” in the upper right corner of the Facebook comment box to report spam or abuse. You can also email us.