US Senate passes resolution condemning Vladimir Putin as a war criminal

In rare show of unity, resolution was unanimously approved by senators from both parties

Sravasti Dasgupta
Wednesday 16 March 2022 13:16 GMT
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Related: Ukrainian president Zelensky to address US Congress

The US Senate has unanimously approved a resolution branding Russian president Vladimir Putin a war criminal over his ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The resolution was led by Sen Lindsey Graham (R - South Carolina) and passed by voice vote after negotiating changes with his Republican colleague Sen Rand Paul of Kentucky.

In a rare show of unity, the resolution was unanimously approved by senators from both parties.

Ahead of the vote, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said: “All of us in this chamber joined together, with Democrats and Republicans, to say that Vladimir Putin cannot escape accountability for the atrocities committed against the Ukrainian people.”

The resolution condemns Mr Putin, Russia as well as the Russian Security Council and members of the Russian military of committing flagrant acts of aggression and other atrocities that rise to the level of war crimes.

It also calls for an investigation into Mr Putin and his administration at the International Criminal Court and International Court of Justice for potential war crimes.

After negotiations between Mr Graham and Mr Paul, the resolution also included language noting that it is not a declaration or authorisation of war against Russia and does not greenlight sending US troops to Ukraine.

Earlier this month, an International Criminal Court prosecutor, Karim Khan announced that he has opened an investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.

In a statement on Twitter after the resolution was passed, Mr Graham said: “Very excited the US Senate unanimously agreed to support the war crimes investigation being conducted against Putin & his inner circle at the Hague.”

“America should do all we can to aid this investigation by providing information & intelligence to the court in a timely manner.”

“The next step for me is to work with our British allies and hopefully others to create an intel cell that will make available to the public Russian military units engaged in war crimes and start naming their commanders.”

He added that “a name-and-shame campaign is in the making.”

The resolution will not have the force of law but becomes another example of Congress providing the Biden administration political support to take a tough line against Russia amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.

This map shows the extent of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (Press Association Images)

The Russian offensive on Ukraine intensified on Wednesday as explosions were reported amid continuous air sirens in the suburbs of Kyiv as the war entered its 21st day. Around three million people have fled Ukraine since the beginning of the war on 24 February.

Around midnight, Russian warships fired missiles and a “huge amount of ammunition” at the Ukrainian sea coast “from a great distance” to the south of Odesa, Ukraine’s interior ministry adviser said.

This came hours before Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is set to address the US Congress to bolster support against Russia’s military invasion, which has left thousands of people dead and displaced millions.

Earlier in a video address, Mr Zelensky hinted that the peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine were yielding results as Moscow’s “demands were becoming more realistic”. Mr Zelensky also warned that the war will end in shame and poverty for Russia.

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Additional reporting by agencies

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