Kamala Harris: US determines Russian crimes against humanity in Ukraine
America’s vice president told Europeans of Washington’s determination to hold Russia accountable for crimes against humanity in the Ukraine war as she marked one year of the conflict.
Speaking to the Munich Security Conference, Kamala Harris said that America was united and committed to ensuring that the attack on Ukraine would be met with a pursuit of justice.
“We will not waver,” she said. “Russian forces have pursued a widespread and systemic attack against a civilian population.”
As a former California prosecutor, Ms Harris honed in on the killings, beatings and electrocutions witnessed across the civilian population and said she knew first hand of the importance of gathering facts and holding them up against the law.
“We know the legal standards, there is no doubt these are crimes against humanity,” she said, promising those responsible and their leaders would be held to account.
In an effort to address the worldwide fallout of the conflict, Ms Harris also warned that no one is safe in a world where one country can violate the sovereignty or territorial integrity of another.
Speaking in the name of President Joe Biden, she said the US-led response to the Russian invasion was a demonstration of collective determination to uphold rules and norms that have existed since Second World War.
In a simultaneous statement, Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, said the determination was a landmark legal development. “These acts are not random or spontaneous; they are part of the Kremlin’s widespread and systematic attack against Ukraine’s civilian population,” he said.
“We reserve crimes against humanity determinations for the most egregious crimes. Today’s determination underlines staggering extent of the human suffering inflicted by Moscow on the Ukrainian civilian population.
“Based on a careful analysis of the law and available facts, I have determined that members of Russia’s forces and other Russian officials have committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine.”
Ms Harris vowed that transatlantic support for Ukraine would continue, dismissing suggestions that Ukraine’s democratic allies would lose interest in underwriting its defence efforts.
“If [President Vladimir] Putin thinks he can wait us out, he is badly mistaken,” Ms Harris said. “Time is not on his side.”
Ms Harris delivered her remarks a week ahead of the one-year mark of Russia’s invasion. The vice president, who spoke at the conference in 2022, days before the war began, highlighted Ukraine’s resilience.
“Today, a year later, we know Kyiv is still standing, Russia is weakened, the transatlantic alliance is stronger than ever, and the spirit of the Ukrainian people endures,” she said. “As President Biden has often said: the United States will support Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
Ms Harris is leading a large delegation to the security conference, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a display of unity intended to highlight the US commitment to Ukraine even as many House Republicans are calling for more scrutiny of the Biden administration’s support for Kyiv.
Mr Biden has helped secure international support for Ukraine, including weapons and funding, and imposed sweeping sanctions on Moscow to hamper Russia’s war. The US has committed nearly $30 billion in security assistance to Ukraine in the past year.