US Vice President Kamala Harris said the US had discovered that Russia had committed “crimes against humanity” during its nearly year-long invasion of Ukraine. At the Munich Security Conference, days before the anniversary of the start of Moscow’s major invasion of Ukraine, Harris said Russian forces had carried out “widespread and systematic” attacks on the country’s civilian population. He said, “he had committed war crimes in Ukraine and would work with other agencies to prosecute perpetrators.” Crimes against humanity investigations have gone a step further, pointing to the widespread and systematic nature of attacks on civilians.
The official US determination, which came at the end of a legal analysis led by the Department of State, carried with it no immediate consequences for the continuing war. But Washington hoped that it could help further isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin and galvanize legal efforts to hold members of his government accountable through international courts and sanctions. The UN-backed Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine has not yet concluded that the war crimes it has said it has identified amount to crimes against humanity.
Meanwhile, Ukraine plans an offensive in the coming months, demanding more heavier and longer-range weapons from its Western allies. The nearly year-long war has claimed tens of thousands of lives displaced millions of people from their homes devastated the global economy and left Putin on the outskirts of the West. International legal bodies are also restricted. Kyiv has been pushing a new international war crimes organization focused on Russian aggression, opposed by Moscow.