US Vice President Kamala Harris has for the first time accused Russia of perpetrating 'crimes against humanity' since its invasion of Ukraine began nearly a year ago, warning that those responsible will have to "account for it".
Speaking at the Munich (Germany) Security Conference, Ms. Harris, a former prosecutor, made a chilling enumeration of abuses attributed to Moscow, citing systematic bombings targeting civilians and critical infrastructure, torture and rape attributed to Russian soldiers, the deportations of Ukrainians to Russia, including thousands of children separated from their families.
"We have looked at the evidence, we know the legal standards and there is no doubt: these are crimes against humanity," she said.
Since the start of the invasion, the United States has documented or listed more than 30,600 cases of war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine, the US State Department said.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kouleba praised the American position and again accused Moscow of "genocidal war" in Ukraine, during a press conference on the sidelines of the Conference.
However, he said he feared that it would not be possible to gather enough evidence to prosecute "specific individuals" who had committed "atrocities".
kyiv has called for the establishment of a special tribunal to try Russia's top officials, but its exact form raises complex legal issues.
Gathered in Munich on the sidelines of the Conference, the heads of diplomacy of the great powers of the G7 reaffirmed in a parallel statement their "unshakable solidarity with Ukraine for as long as necessary" almost a year after the launch of the invasion. Russian on February 24, 2022.
Earlier, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned of a defeat for Ukraine, while Russia is in the process of mobilizing "hundreds of thousands of troops".
"The biggest risk of all is that Putin wins. If Putin wins in Ukraine, the message for him and other authoritarian leaders will be that they can use force to get what they want," he said. warned.
French President Emmanuel Macron has certainly reaffirmed that he wants "the defeat" of Moscow but has warned those who want "above all to crush Russia", which will "never" be the "position of France".
"I am convinced that in the end it will not be concluded militarily," he said in Munich in an interview with a group of journalists. “All the options other than Vladimir Putin within the current system” seem to him “worse” than the Russian president, he added.
The Munich meeting also allowed an interview between the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi during which the Secretary of State warned of the "implications and consequences" for China if he was found to be providing "material support" to Russia in its war in Ukraine, according to the State Department.
Earlier, Kamala Harris said her country was "troubled by the fact that Beijing has deepened its relationship with Moscow since the start of the war".
"Any move by China to provide lethal support to Russia would only reward aggression, continue the killing and further undermine a rules-based order," the vice president warned.
- "A political issue"
The Europeans also hope to convince Beijing to use its influence on the master of the Kremlin to end the war.
China must "play a responsible role" in the current situation, said British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Wang Yi presented his country as a champion of "peace" and repeated in Munich that it was up to Moscow and kyiv to "sit around the table and find" a "political" solution to the conflict.
No signs of easing are in sight in the conflict which has seen Russian troops seize almost a fifth of Ukrainian territory and claimed tens of thousands of victims on both sides.
On Saturday, the Russian army claimed the rare capture of a locality in the Kharkiv region, in northeastern Ukraine, where its troops have gone on the offensive for a few weeks, in parallel with its offensives around of Bakhmout and Vougledar.
The general feeling on the Allied and Ukrainian side is that the war is likely to be prolonged, as Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had already estimated on Friday during the first day of the Conference which is due to end on Sunday.
This is why it is essential to "redouble our efforts" in military support for Kyiv by speeding up the production of standard armaments, such as ammunition, which Kyiv "desperately needs", said Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
EU members are currently exploring ways to make joint ammunition purchases for Ukraine, according to diplomatic sources in Brussels.
The allies support the Ukrainians through financial, humanitarian and military aid, including heavy Western-made tanks even if they are slow to arrive on the ground, and through drastic economic sanctions against Russia.
18/02/2023 23:06:40 - Munich (Allemagne) (AFP) - © 2023 AFP