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Seeking Justice for Russia's Atrocities in Ukraine


The United States is seeking justice and accountability for Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine.

Seeking Justice for Russia Atrocities in Ukraine
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The United States is seeking justice and accountability for Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine.

Nine months into Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russian troops have killed or wounded thousands of civilians; forced at least 13 million Ukrainian citizens to flee their homes; bombed infrastructure necessary to maintain basic water and electricity; struck hospitals, schools, and apartment buildings; and pounded historic cities to rubble.

The aggression against Ukraine has been accompanied by systemic war crimes committed in every region where Russia’s forces have been deployed, said Dr. Beth Van Schaack, U.S. Ambassador-at-large for Global Criminal Justice at the State Department. “We’re seeing custodial abuses of civilians and POWs and also efforts to cover up these crimes.”

“We have reports of citizens being killed execution-style, with their hands bound. We have bodies that show signs of torture. We have horrific accounts of gender-based violence, including sexual violence against women and children,” said Ambassador Van Schaack. Ukraine’s Office of the Prosecutor General has already identified thousands of incidents that may constitute war crimes.

The Russian government has also subjected thousands of Ukrainian citizens to a vast transnational infrastructure of filtration operations. There are compelling reports describing physical and psychological abuse, including summary executions, as part of these operations, and the forcible transfer and deportation of Ukrainian civilians, including thousands of Ukraine’s children, who have been abducted and forced to join Russian families through adoption.

These reports depict a disturbing pattern of abuse everywhere Russia’s forces are engaged. These abuses are also consistent with what was reported from the Kremlin’s previous military engagements in Chechnya, Syria, and Georgia.

The United States is supporting a number of international efforts to investigate atrocities in Ukraine. This includes ongoing investigations by the International Criminal Court, as Ukraine has consented to its jurisdiction. There’s a UN Commission of Inquiry also focused on Ukraine, as well as the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission. And the Europeans have formed a joint investigative team through the Eurojust network, which recently drafted and amended its regulations to enable it to serve as an evidence repository for the commission of international crimes. The United States is also providing robust technical support to Ukraine’s Office of the Prosecutor General efforts to assist their ongoing documentation and investigation of Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine. These efforts are complementary and critical.

The world is united around the imperative of ensuring accountability for Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine.