Biden administration formally accuses Russia of war crimes as humanitarian crisis in Ukraine deepens

As President Biden headed Wednesday to a Europe with large-scale battles raging at its edge, his government formally declared that Russian forces have committed war crimes in their brutal attacks on civilians and others in Ukraine.

The besieged port of Mariupol was cited as one of the main pieces of evidence. On Wednesday, Ukraine said Russian forces hijacked aid missions headed to the devastated city, where one of the worst humanitarian crises of the escalating conflict has unfolded with hundreds of civilians killed and scarce supplies of food, water and medicine.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin has unleashed unrelenting violence that has caused death and destruction across Ukraine,” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in announcing the U.S. government’s determination in a statement released as he flew to NATO headquarters in Brussels with Biden.

Blinken noted deadly Russian attacks on apartment buildings, hospitals, schools and shopping malls and, in Mariupol, on a maternity ward and theater said to be sheltering children. He cited United Nations statistics of nearly 5,000 civilians killed in the nearly monthlong war, almost half of those in Mariupol alone. The actual figures are believed to be much higher.

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