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US documenting ‘very credible reports’ of deliberate attacks on civilians in Ukraine for war crime probe

Secretary Antony J. Blinken in a virtual U.S. Embassy London meet and greet on May 4, 2021. (State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday Washington saw “very credible reports” of deliberate attacks on civilians in Ukraine during Russia’s ongoing military campaign against its neighbouring nation. Blinken added the US was documenting these reports to support appropriate organisations in their potential war crimes investigation.

“We’ve seen very credible reports of deliberate attacks on civilians which would constitute a war crime,” Blinken told CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ show. “We’ve seen very credible reports about the use of certain weapons,” he said.

“What we’re doing right now is documenting all of this, putting this all together, looking at it and making sure that as people and the appropriate organisations and institutions investigate whether war crimes have been or are being committed that we can support whatever they are doing,” Blinken said.

After Russian forces seized Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant in heavy fighting in southeastern Ukraine, triggering a global alarm, the US embassy in Ukraine on Friday sent a tweet saying the act was a war crime.

The US State Department sent a message to all its embassies in Europe telling them not to retweet the Kyiv embassy’s tweet calling the attack a war crime, according to CNN, which said it reviewed the message.

Blinken did not address the embassy’s tweet, while the State Department declined to comment on whether the tweet reflected the overall position of the US government on the issue.

Russia, which has denied attacking civilian areas, called the campaign it launched on February 24 a “special military operation”, stating that it has no saying it has no plans to occupy Ukraine, that was once part of the Soviet Union under Moscow’s sway but which has now turned West seeking membership of NATO and the European Union.

Now in its 11th day, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assault has uprooted more than 1.5 million people in what the United Nations says is the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War Two.

Images of cluster bombs and artillery strikes on Ukrainian cities this week have prompted the world’s top war crimes prosecutor to launch an investigation, with the support of dozens of nations opposed to Russia’s military onslaught.


(c) 2022 the Hindustan Times

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