In a move that must not be taking lightly, Kamala Harris told an international audience that the United States has formally determined Russia has committed “crimes against humanity” during their invasion of Ukraine.
Harris made the statements on Saturday during her speech at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.
NOW – Kamala Harris: "The United States has formally determined that Russia has committed crimes against humanity." pic.twitter.com/h067LM4EJB
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“From the starting days of this unprovoked war, we have witnessed Russian forces engage in horrendous atrocities and war crimes. Their actions are an assault on our common values, an attack on our common humanity,” Harris said.
“And let us be clear. Russian forces have pursued a wide spread and systemic attack against a civilian population,” she continued. “Gruesome acts of murder, torture, rape and deportation. Executions, killings, beatings and electrocution. Russian authorities have forcibly deported hundreds of thousands of people from Ukraine to Russia, including children.”
“The United States has formally determined that Russia has committed crimes against humanity,” Harris said.
The importance of this declaration is that it can be used as a justification for preemptive strikes against Russia. Since Ukraine is not a part of NATO and does not have a defense agreement with other nations, the most likely scenario to draw the United States into war with Russia was for Russia to attack a NATO nation. As the invasion drags out with no signs of Russian aggressions advancing outside of Ukraine, this declaration by Harris changes the calculus.
This appears to be a play to give the United Nations justification for endorsing a preemptive strike by the United States or NATO as a whole. While nothing formal would come from the U.N. with Russia sitting on the Security Council, the declaration by Harris opens the door for the U.N. to tacitly accept a preemptive attack without condemnation.