Kamala Harris calls for Russia war crimes probe as she meets displaced Ukrainians in Poland

US vice president meets Poland’s prime minister and president, as well as refugees and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau

Kamala Harris demands war crimes probe into Russia's invasion of Ukraine
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Vice President Kamala Harris met with multiple heads of state and sought to smooth out tensions between the United States and Poland on the first day of a trip to Eastern Europe on Thursday.

Ms Harris traveled to Warsaw as part of a two-day trip and will head to Romania on Friday as a show of solidarity with two of Ukraine’s neighbours amid Vladimir Putin’s assault on the country. The vice president first met with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and President Andzrej Duda. Later in the day, she met refugees from Ukraine and the US embassy in Ukraine’s staff before she met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was also in Warsaw.

Ms Harris said ahead of her meeting with Mr Trudeau that she planned to discuss security and humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine.

“And we value, of course, the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and look forward to continuing our partnership in that regard,” she said before the bilateral conversation.

Similarly, during her meeting with refugees, she reiterated the United States’ commitment to displaced people and aiding the people of Ukraine.

“And I – and I do want to say what we will talk about after the press left – leaves, which is: We are here to support you, and you are not alone,” Ms Harris told the attendees.

But perhaps the biggest moment came during her joint press conference with Mr Duda, when she called for a probe into war crimes after Russia bombed a maternity hospital in Mariupol.

“Pregnant women going for health care? Being injured by, I don’t know, a missile or bomb? In an unprovoked, unjustified war? Where a powerful country is trying to take over another country, violate its sovereignty, its territorial integrity for the sake of what?” Ms Harris asked. “Nothing that is justified or provoked? Absolutely there should be an investigation. And we should all be watching. And I have no question the eyes of the war are on this war.”

A senior administration official later said that Ms Harris’s comments were in line with the administration’s line that targeting of civilians would be defined as a war crime. The official added that she was referring to the United Nations’ commission for inquiry and that the administration is gathering information, which it will share at a time it considers appropriate.

But Ms Harris also arrived after the United States and Poland had a major disagreement after the United States rebuffed Poland’s offer to send MiG-29 fighters to Ramstein Air Base in Germany for Ukrainian soldiers to pick up. But the Pentagon said earlier this week that was “simply not clear to us that there is a substantive rationale for it,” much to the chagrin of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

But Mr Duda and Ms Harris denied there was any tension between the two nations.

“I want to be very clear: The United States and Poland are united in what we have done and are prepared to do to help Ukraine and the people of Ukraine,” she told reporters. Instead, she noted how the United States is “making deliveries every day” of Javelin anti-tank and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.

When asked about whether the ban on Russian oil will be permanent, the senior administration said it is not at that point since Russia continues to invade Ukraine.

The vice president will head to Bucharest next, where she will meet with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.

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