Blinken accuses Russia of committing ‘war crimes’ in Ukraine | Russia-Ukraine War News

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has accused Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine, echoing comments made by President Joe Biden, who labeled his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as “”war criminal“.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Blinken said State Department experts are in the process of documenting and assessing potential war crimes in Ukraine to help international efforts work toward accountability. explanation, but he said it was clear that Russia was engaging in abuses. in the conflict.

“Yesterday, President Biden said that – in his view – war crimes were committed in Ukraine. I personally agree,” Blinken told reporters.

“Deliberately targeting civilians is a war crime. After all the destruction of the past three weeks, I find it very difficult to conclude that the Russians are doing differently.”

Biden angered the Kremlin on Wednesday when he called Putin a “war criminal” – a comment that Moscow rebuked as “unacceptable and unforgivable rhetoric”. On Thursday, the US President also described his Russian counterpart as a “murderous dictator” and “a pure thug”.

‘Yesterday, President Biden said that – in his view – war crimes were committed in Ukraine. I personally agree,’ Blinken said [Saul Loeb/Pool via AP]

Meanwhile, at the State Department, Blinken pledged to ensure accountability for abuses in Ukraine.

“When I tell you that there will be responsibility and consequences for any war crimes committed, I hope you will listen to me,” the top US diplomat told reporters. pellets. “But actions always speak louder than words.”

Russia debut an all-out invasion of Ukraine on 24 February after a months-long stagnation that saw Moscow massed troops near the Ukrainian border as it demanded an end to NATO expansion republics of the former Soviet Union.

According to the United Nations, the war has displaced more than 3.1 million people from Ukraine and devastated areas around the country. Major cities, including the capital Kyiv, have faced bombardment and siege.

On Thursday, Ukrainian officials said a Russian attack killed 21 people in the town of Merefa outside the city of Kharkiv in the east of the country. A day earlier, Ukraine accused Russian forces of bombing a theater sheltering civilians in the besieged southern city of Mariupol.

Three weeks after the invasion, US officials say Russia continues to face military and logistical obstacles in its campaign against the backdrop of fierce Ukrainian resistance.

Blinken said on Thursday that Russia could launch a chemical attack to escalate the war, noting that Washington correctly predicted the invasion weeks before it began.

Blinken told reporters: “We believe that Moscow may be setting the stage to use chemical weapons and then falsely blame Ukraine to justify the escalation of attacks on the Ukrainian people. .

The top US diplomat also said Washington believes Moscow will send mercenaries from abroad to fight in the conflict. He added that Russia would “systematically” kidnap local Ukrainian officials to replace them “with puppets”.

The US and its allies were quick to impose far-reaching punishment about the Russian economy, as well as the financial penalties imposed on Putin and his inner elites after the invasion.

Washington has also stepped up military and humanitarian assistance to Kyiv. After signing a US budget of $13.6 billion in assistance to Ukraine, Biden announced $800 million additional military aid to the country this week.

On Thursday, Blinken called on “all nations” to use whatever leverage they can with Russia to help it end the war, only China in his comments.

“In particular, we believe that China has a responsibility to exercise its influence over President Putin and defend the international rules and principles that it claims to support,” Blinken said.

Over the past week, US officials have threaten China with “consequences” when it comes to Russian aid in Ukraine amid media reports that Moscow is requesting military assistance from Beijing.

Blinken, ahead of a phone call between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday, reiterated those warnings, saying Washington was “concerned” that Beijing might be considering helping the war effort of Moscow.

“President Biden will speak to President Xi tomorrow and will make it clear that China will be held accountable for any action to support Russian aggression and we will not hesitate to impose costs,” he said. ,” he told reporters.

In public statements, China has supported diplomatic efforts to end the war, but it has not condemned the invasion. It also abstained from the United Nations Security Council and Plenum called for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.

While supporting diplomatic efforts Blinken said on Thursday that in order to secure a ceasefire, Blinken said Moscow did not appear to be serious about ending the war.

“Diplomacy requires both sides to engage in good faith to de-escalate, and I see no indication that Putin is ready to back down,” Blinken said.

Blinken also confirmed that an American citizen was killed in Ukraine without providing further details.

The US State Department has repeatedly advised Americans not to travel to Ukraine – including volunteering to join the fight against Russian forces – and urged US citizens already in the country to leave the country immediately. instantly.

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