US accuses Russia of ‘crimes against humanity’ in Ukraine

MUNICH (AFP): US Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday accused Russia of committing “crimes against humanity” in Ukraine, saying Moscow’s forces had conducted “widespread and systemic” attacks on the country’s civilian population.

She made the comments at the Munich Security Conference, days ahead of the one-year anniversary of Moscow sending its forces into Ukraine, unleashing war in Europe for the first time in decades.

“The US has formally determined that Russia has committed crimes against humanity,” she said in an address to world leaders at the gathering.

It is the first time that the United States has formally designated Russia’s actions in Ukraine as crimes against humanity.

“Their actions are an assault on our common values and our common humanity. Russian forces have pursued a widespread and systemic attack against a civilian population,” Harris added.

She listed a litany of abuses she said were carried out by Moscow’s forces in Ukraine — “gruesome acts of murder, torture, rape and deportation, execution-style killings, beatings and electrocution”.

“I say to all those who have perpetrated these crimes and to their superiors who are complicit in these crimes you will be held to account… Justice must be served,” said Harris, a former prosecutor.

The three-day conference is being attended by world leaders, including those from France and Germany, and China’s top diplomat Wang Yi.

Harris also hailed Ukraine’s success in standing up to Russia’s invasion.

“Kyiv is still standing, Russia is weakened, the transatlantic alliance is stronger than ever and, most importantly, the spirit of the Ukrainian people endures,” she said.