Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that the U.S. assesses that Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine and will work to hold them accountable.
"Today, I can announce that, based on information currently available, the U.S. government assesses that members of Russia's forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine," he said in a statement Wednesday.
"We've seen numerous credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities," Blinken said. "Russia's forces have destroyed apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping centers, and ambulances, leaving thousands of innocent civilians killed or wounded. Many of the sites Russia's forces have hit have been clearly identifiable as in-use by civilians."
Blinken cited reports of several incidents in beseiged Mariupol, such as the bombing of a maternity hospital and a strike that hit a Mariupol theater, which Blinken said "clearly marked with the word 'дети' — Russian for 'children' — in huge letters visible from the sky."
Blinken said Russian President Vladimir Putin's forces used the same tactics in Grozny, Chechnya, and in Aleppo, Syria, "where they intensified their bombardment of cities to break the will of the people."
According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, some 100,000 civilians remain in Mariupol, "in inhuman conditions, under a full blockade, without food, without water, without medicine and under constant shelling, under constant bombardment," he said in a video address Tuesday.
"We are trying to organize stable humanitarian corridors for Mariupol residents, but almost all of our attempts, unfortunately, are foiled by the Russian occupiers, by shelling, or deliberate terror," Zelenskyy said.
The secretary of state's statement comes one day after the Defense Department said it had "seen clear evidence that over the last week or so the Russians have deliberately and intentionally targeted civilian infrastructure."
Blinken and President Biden are headed Wednesday to Brussels for a NATO summit on Ukraine. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Zelenskyy will address world leaders gathering in Brussels Thursday for an extraordinary meeting of the alliance.
On Friday, they will head to Warsaw, Poland, to meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda.
Mr. Biden last week called Putin a "war criminal" for launching the attack in Ukraine.