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US launches program to document war crimes in Ukraine

The body of Nickolay is covered by graveyard workers. Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The U.S. State Department has announced the launch of a new program to capture and analyze evidence of war crimes and other atrocities committed by Russian forces in Ukraine.

The goal of the program will be the documentation, verification, and dissemination of open-source evidence to ensure that Russia is held accountable for its actions, the U.S. State Department said on May 17 in a statement.

Known as the Conflict Observatory, the program will make its reports and analyses available on its website.

“The Conflict Observatory will analyze and preserve publicly and commercially available information, including satellite imagery and information shared via social media, consistent with international legal standards, for use in ongoing and future accountability mechanisms,” the statement said.

The online platform will help refute Russia’s disinformation efforts and shine a light on abuses, the statement added.

Ukraine has accused Russia of committing atrocities during its unprovoked invasion and said it has identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes.

Russia denies targeting civilians and claims that evidence of atrocities presented by Ukraine was staged.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said last week there were many examples of possible war crimes in Ukraine.

The International Criminal Court is also working with Ukrainian, Lithuanian, and Polish prosecutors in investigating war crimes allegations against Russian forces.