Crimes Against Humanity in Ukraine
The International Criminal Court defined crimes against humanity with the 1998 Rome Statute.
According to the international legal body, crimes against humanity are acts committed as “part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population,” while the attacker must also have knowledge of the attack.
Acts that fall under crimes against humanity include murder, extermination, enslavement deportation, or forcible transfer of population, torture, rape, and enforced disappearances.
Russian forces in Ukraine have committed almost all of the above repeatedly. The images of tortured and executed civilians in the Bucha suburb of Kyiv are still fresh.
And when the Ukrainian forces liberated more territory in the east around Kharkiv and south around Kherson, similar images and horror stories emerged.
There is also Mariupol, where the Russian forces destroyed an entire city of 100,000 and killed thousands of civilians.
“From the starting days of this unprovoked war, we have witnessed Russian forces engage in horrendous atrocities and war crimes. Their actions are an assault on our common values, an attack on our common humanity,” Vice President Harris said.
“And let us be clear: Russian forces have pursued a widespread and systemic attack against a civilian population — gruesome acts of murder, torture, rape, and deportation. Execution-style killings, beatings, and electrocution,” the vice president added.
What Happens Now?
The official U.S. determination, of course, won’t affect the Russian forces on the ground, nor will it have any immediate consequences on the trajectory of the conflict.
Moscow will continue to pursue its illegal “special military operation” in Ukraine with little regard to what the U.S. or indeed any other Western country is saying.
However, the U.S. hopes that this determination of crimes against humanity will further isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin.
Not the First Time
The U.S. first accused Russia of war crimes back in March 2022, just 28 days after the invasion began on February 24. Then, the U.S. State Department made a formal determination that Russian forces in Ukraine has been involved in war crimes.
“We’ve seen numerous credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken had said at the time.
“Russia’s forces have destroyed apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping centers, and ambulances, leaving thousands of innocent civilians killed or wounded,” America’s top diplomat had added.
Unfortunately, these accusations would not only prove true but become increasingly more serious. Since October, Russia has pursued a long-range fires strategy against Ukrainian critical infrastructure and urban centers. The Russian military has launched more than 1,200 ballistic and cruise missiles against Ukraine, taking out the power, internet, and water in dozens of cities and killing and wounding hundreds of civilians during these indiscriminate attacks.
Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive 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 Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.