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President Biden’s administration is sending mixed messages about alleged Russian war crimes during the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Asked Friday whether a reported strike on a Ukrainian nuclear power plant would constitute a war crime to the U.S. government, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said there were still internal investigations underway.
“We have an internal review that’s been ongoing prior to last night to collect evidence and data of the targeting of civilians, of the reported use of horrific weapons of war on the ground in Ukraine,” Psaki said.
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“That’s an ongoing process. We have not made conclusions. It’s a legal review and a process that goes through the administration.”
The U.S. Embassy to Ukraine, however, indicated Friday morning that the Russians had committed a war crime.
“It is a war crime to attack a nuclear power plant. Putin’s shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear plant takes his reign of terror one step further,” the embassy tweeted.
Hundreds of civilians have been killed since Russian forces started bombing populated areas across Ukraine, according to numerous reports. At least one cluster munition strike hit a hospital, killing four and injuring 10.
The first Geneva Convention in 1864 outlawed assaults on medical personnel on the battlefield.
“We cannot confirm the existence of the use of cluster munitions inside Ukraine, nor can we confirm the use or existence of thermobaric weapons inside Ukraine. We’ve seen reports of them mobilizing their reserves,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Wednesday.
“We cannot confirm those reports. So rather than speculating about what that might indicate, I would just tell you that we’ve seen them, but we can’t confirm those reports.”
Cluster munitions are explosives that contain smaller bombs. They can strike wide areas and raze entire civilian neighborhoods.
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Ukraine’s foreign minister last week accused Russia of “war crimes” after he said Moscow had attacked a kindergarten and an orphanage and promising Ukraine would send evidence of the attacks to The Hague.
“Today’s Russian attacks on a kindergarten and an orphanage are war crimes and violations of the Rome Statute,” Dmytro Kuleba tweeted, referring to the agreement that established the International Criminal Court.
Russia has vetoed more votes on the U.N. Security Council than any other member, according to a watchdog report. Recently, Russia has blocked investigations into war crimes committed in the Syrian civil war.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed reporting