Blinken Says U.S. Has Seen Credible Reports of Russian Attacks On Ukrainian Civilians

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday the U.S. has seen evidence of Russian attacks on civilians in Ukraine, which could amount to a war crime, as Vladimir Putin’s invading troops continue pounding residential areas.

“We have seen very credible reports about the use of certain weapons,” Blinken told CNN’s “State of the Union,” speaking from Moldova. “And what we’re doing right now is documenting all of this, putting it all together, looking at it, and making sure that, as people and the appropriate organizations and institutions investigate whether war crimes have been or are being committed, that we can support whatever they’re doing.”

War crimes include deliberate direct attacks on civilians and the use of weapons that have the ability to cause excess deaths, according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg referenced the use of cluster bombs in Ukraine on Friday, according to Reuters.

“We have seen the use of cluster bombs and we have seen reports of use of other types of weapons which would be in violation of international law,” Stoltenberg said.

Cluster munitions disperse when fired, causing destruction over a wide area and posing “an immediate threat to civilians,” according to Human Rights Watch.

Ukraine has brought a case against Russia at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, seeking a court order to stop the war. For that reason, Ukraine has dispatched visual teams to areas shelled by Russia, according to The Washington Post. Russian lawyers snubbed Monday’s first hearing. The court could decide the case this week.

As Western leaders continue to resist Ukraine’s call for imposing a no-fly zone over the country, they are providing more military equipment. Blinken told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the U.S. is in “very active discussions” with Poland to back-fill any fighter jets provided to Ukraine.

“All of us together are continuing to take steps to increase the pressure on Russia through additional sanctions, all of which are very actively under discussion and will be implemented in the in the coming days, as well as taking further steps to give the Ukrainians what they need to defend themselves against the Russian aggression,” Blinken said.

Blinken also said the U.S. may heighten economic sanctions, possibly including banning Russian oil imports. Oil prices climbed further on the suggestion.

“We are now in very active discussions with our European partners about banning the import of Russian oil to our countries, while of course at the same time maintaining a steady global supply of oil,” Blinken told NBC’s “Meet The Press.” “The actions we’ve taken to date have already had a devastating impact on the Russian economy.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken prior to his departure from Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 7.


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