US accuses Kremlin of war crimes for bombing Ukraine theater housing children

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with U.S. embassy staff at the Swissotel in Tallinn, Estonia March 8, 2022.

Olivier Douliery | Reuters

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday that he believes Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine, citing numerous instances of attacks on civilians.

“President Biden said that, in his opinion, war crimes have been committed in Ukraine. Personally, I agree. Intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime,” Blinken said during a press conference at the State Department.

“After all, the destruction of the past three weeks, I find it difficult to conclude that the Russians are doing otherwise,” he added.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin “a war criminal” for his unprovoked war on Ukraine.

It was the first time Biden publicly branded Putin with that term.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday that Biden was speaking from his heart about what he has seen on the news, which she described as “barbaric actions by a brutal dictator.”

She noted that there is a separate legal process underway at the State Department to determine whether Putin violated international law and committed war crimes.

The nation’s top diplomat described a laundry list of reports in which Russian forces targeted Ukrainian civilians.

“Russian forces bombed a theatre in Mariupol where hundreds of people had taken shelter. The word children had been written in Russian in giant white letters on the pavement outside the building so that you could know from the air that there were children inside,” Blinken explained.

“Russian forces also opened fire on 10 civilians who were waiting in line for bread,” he said, adding that the U.S. had so far observed a “long list of attacks on civilian and nonmilitary locations across Ukraine.”

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