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Ukraine War: Can America Catch Russian War Criminals?

War in Ukraine. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The U.S. has stood up a special unit to pursue Russian soldiers suspected of committing war crimes in Ukraine. The Ukrainian government is looking into almost 11,000 potential war crimes cases involving more than 600 Russian troops and officials.

The new unit comes at a time when the world is becoming increasingly aware of more Russian war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine.

Tracking Russian War Crimes 

On Tuesday, the State Department launched a new Conflict Observatory for Ukraine. The program will track, analyze, and release open-source information and evidence to back claims of Russian war crimes and other human rights abuses in Ukraine, including damage to civilian infrastructure.

“The international community has witnessed horrific atrocities perpetrated by Russia’s forces since President Putin launched his devastating and unjustifiable war of choice against Ukraine. We are working through partnerships with U.S. academia and the private sector to assist current and future quests for justice following months of fighting and mounting evidence of these widespread, large-scale atrocities that have been committed,” State Department Press Secretary Ned Price said in a press briefing.

The U.S. was one of the first countries to formally accuse Russia of war crimes in Ukraine. In March, using open-source information and classified intelligence, the State Department had officially accused Moscow of committing war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine. Unfortunately, the State Department was proven correct, and now the whole world has witnessed the horrific actions of the Russian forces in Ukraine, and especially in the suburbs of Kyiv, including Bucha.

“The information collected by the Conflict Observatory will be a resource for the world to see the deplorable and brutal actions of Russia’s forces against the Ukrainian people. It will shine a light on atrocities and is intended to contribute to eventual prosecutions in Ukraine’s domestic courts, courts in third-party countries, U.S. courts, and other relevant tribunals. It will provide information to refute Russia’s disinformation campaigns and expand the range of our and our partners’ accountability mechanisms,” Price added.

The State Department stated that the any reporting of Russian war crimes and other atrocities will be consistent with legal practices and maintain a “rigorous chain-of-custody” procedures to ensure that any future civil and legal processes won’t be hampered.

In the Conflict Observatory for Ukraine, the State Department will be working closely with Esri, a leading geographic information systems (GIS) company, Yale University’s Humanitarian Research Lab, the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative, and PlanetScape Ai, a commercial satellite analysis firm.

The First War Criminal 

Meanwhile, Ukraine has begun the first war crimes trial in the war. The accused is a 21-years-old Russian soldier who admitted to killing an elderly Ukrainian civilian who was riding his bicycle. The commander of the Russian soldier had ordered the young troop to shoot the elderly Ukrainian civilian as a precaution. The Russian unit wanted to prevent Ukrainian civilians from passing on their positions and dispositions to the Ukrainian forces nearby.

1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.