The following statement was released by the U.S. State Department on March 23. It is attributed to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Every day that Russia’s forces continue their brutal attacks, the number of innocent civilians killed and wounded, including women and children, climbs. As of March 22, officials in besieged Mariupol said that more than 2,400 civilians had been killed in that city alone. Not including the Mariupol devastation, the UN has officially confirmed more than 2,500 civilian casualties, including dead and wounded, and emphasizes the actual toll is likely higher.
Last week, I echoed President [Joe] Biden’s statement, based on the countless accounts and images of destruction and suffering we have all seen, that war crimes had been committed by Putin’s forces in Ukraine. I noted then that the deliberate targeting of civilians is a war crime. I emphasized that Department of State and other U.S. government experts were documenting and assessing potential war crimes in Ukraine.
Today, I can announce that, based on information currently available, the U.S. government assesses that members of Russia’s forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine.
Our assessment is based on a careful review of available information from public and intelligence sources. As with any alleged crime, a court of law with jurisdiction over the crime is ultimately responsible for determining criminal guilt in specific cases. The U.S. government will continue to track reports of war crimes and will share information we gather with allies, partners and international institutions and organizations, as appropriate. We are committed to pursuing accountability using every tool available, including criminal prosecutions.