On Saturday, Vice President Kamala Harris told an international security gathering that the United States has formally determined that Russian forces have committed “crimes against humanity” during their invasion of Ukraine.
“Let us be clear: Russian forces have pursued a widespread and systemic attack against a civilian population,” she told an audience gathered in Germany for the Munich Security Conference. “Gruesome acts of murder, torture, rape and deportation. Executions, killings, beatings and electrocution. Russian authorities have forcibly deported hundreds of thousands of people from Ukraine to Russia, including children.”
“In the case of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, we have examined the evidence, we know the legal standards, and there is no doubt: These are crimes against humanity,” Harris said, according to the Washington Post.
While President Biden labeled Russian President Vladimir Putin was a “war criminal” in March, shortly after he ordered troops to assault his neighbor, US officials moved to downplay the statement, saying that experts were still collecting evidence and weighing it against international law. While Harris’ statement did not specifically mention the Russian leader’s culpability, she committed the US to press consequences for those responsible.
“I say to all those who have perpetrated these crimes and to their superiors who are complicit in these crimes: You will be held to account,” she said, according to the New York Times.