The U.S. government has formally declared that members of the Russian armed forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Wednesday.
"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," Blinken said.
"We are committed to pursuing accountability using every tool available, including criminal prosecutions," he added.
Blinken's statement comes as President Joe Biden was heading to Europe to talk with allies about possible new sanctions against Russia and more military aid for Ukraine.
The U.S. joins European Union countries in making the formal accusation against Russia. On Tuesday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock highlighted the increase in Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and theaters, calling these actions "clearly war crimes."
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who chaired a meeting of the bloc's foreign ministers in Brussels, said that “what’s happening in Mariupol is a massive war crime. Destroying everything, bombarding and killing everybody in an indiscriminate manner. This is something awful.”
The encircled southern city on the Sea of Azov has seen some of the worst horrors of the war. City officials say that at least 2,300 people have died in the siege, with some buried in mass graves.
The International Criminal Court in the Netherlands is gathering evidence about any possible war crimes in Ukraine, but Russia, like the United States, doesn't recognize the tribunal’s jurisdiction. The Swiss attorney general’s office says it has started collecting evidence from Ukrainian refugees in an effort to expose potential crimes and breaches of sanctions.
This is a live update. Click here for complete coverage of the crisis in Ukraine.