“But we all watched the television coverage of just yesterday,” she continued. “That’s on top of everything else that we know and don’t know yet, based on what we’ve just been able to see. And because we’ve seen it or not doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened.”
Harris’ remarks came after reports on Wednesday that a Russian airstrike had hit a maternity and children’s hospital in Mariupol, a city under siege by Russian forces in southeastern Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted footage of the wreckage, describing the assault as an “Atrocity!”
“Just limit it to what we have seen,” Harris said on Thursday, discussing potential Russian war crimes. “Pregnant women going for health care? Being injured by, I don’t know, a missile? A bomb? In an unprovoked, unjustified war?”
“Absolutely, there should be an investigation,” she added. “And we should all be watching. And I have no question the eyes of the world are on this war and what Russia has done in terms of this aggression and these atrocities. Have no doubt.”
Duda, the Polish president, went further than Harris, saying it “is obvious to us” that Russian forces “are committing war crimes” in Ukraine. Poland has accepted more than 1 million refugees from Ukraine — its eastern neighbor — over the past 10 days, he said, and those fleeing have provided ample evidence of crimes against humanity.
“Right now, as we speak, there are people crossing our border who witnessed their houses destroyed, who saw their neighbors being killed, who saw hospitals being bombed, who saw civilians being shot at, children being shot at,” Duda said.
“These are proofs. These are the reports of witnesses. And they also have those proofs on their smartphones,” he added. “If you look at those footages, it just makes your blood curl. Such scenes are happening today, and they have been happening over the last days in Ukraine. And their perpetrators are Russians.”
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced last month that he would open an investigation into possible war crimes or crimes against humanity in Ukraine. And last Friday, the U.N. Human Rights Council approved a resolution — brought by Ukraine — condemning alleged human rights violations by Russia and agreeing to establish a commission to investigate the charges, which include possible war crimes.
Although British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other world leaders have accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of committing war crimes in Ukraine, President Joe Biden and U.S. officials have stopped short of leveling that allegation. However, Biden did say last Wednesday it is “clear” that Russia is targeting civilians in its invasion.
CIA Director William Burns, speaking Tuesday before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence during the panel’s annual hearing on worldwide threats, warned lawmakers that Putin is “angry and frustrated” by his military’s lack of progress in Ukraine, and that “he’s likely to double down and try to grind down the Ukrainian military with no regard for civilian casualties.”