Russia is committing war crimes - US Secretary of State Blinken

There have multiple incidents since the invasion where Russian forces allegedly targeted Ukrainian sites that were clearly marked as occupied by civilians.

 RUSSIAN PRESIDENT Vladimir Putin attends a meeting in Moscow on Tuesday. (photo credit: Sputnik/Kremlin/Reuters)
RUSSIAN PRESIDENT Vladimir Putin attends a meeting in Moscow on Tuesday.
(photo credit: Sputnik/Kremlin/Reuters)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken clarified the US position on Russia's actions against Ukraine on Wednesday: "The US government assesses that members of Russia’s forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine."

Last week, US President Joe Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a "war criminal" for his invasion of Ukraine. Blinken echoed the statements then. 

"As with any alleged crime, a court of law with jurisdiction over the crime is ultimately responsible for determining criminal guilt in specific cases," Blinken said, adding that the assessment is based on carefully collected data and documentation of Russian forces throughout the last month. 

There have multiple incidents since the invasion where Russian forces allegedly targeted Ukrainian sites that were clearly marked as occupied by civilians and not military targets — a direct violation of international law — including a theater and a school, both of which were serving as shelters. 

Russian climate envoy and personal advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Anatoly Chubais, has resigned and left the country on Wednesday, citing his opposition to President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. Chubais is the highest-level official to break off from Moscow over the invasion.

 US PRESIDENT Joe Biden delivers remarks on Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in the East Room of the White House on Thursday.  (credit: LEAH MILLIS/REUTERS) US PRESIDENT Joe Biden delivers remarks on Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in the East Room of the White House on Thursday. (credit: LEAH MILLIS/REUTERS)

Known as the architect of Russia’s 1990s privatizations, Chubais gave Putin his first Kremlin job in the mid-1990s and initially welcomed his rise to power at the end of that decade.

Chubais, 66, is one of the few 1990s-era economic reformers who’d remained in Putin’s government and had maintained close ties with Western officials.

Russia told Washington on Wednesday it would throw out a number of American diplomats in response to a US move to expel Russian staff from the permanent UN mission, Interfax news agency said.

The agency also cited the foreign ministry as telling the United States any hostile actions against Russia would provoke a decisive response.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned Putin in direct talks not to use biological or chemical weapons in Ukraine, a government spokesperson said on Wednesday.

German government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit confirmed the remarks, earlier reported by Die Zeit weekly, at a regular government news conference.

President Joe Biden departs for Brussels on Wednesday for talks with European leaders about Russia's invasion of Ukraine, carrying with him plans for more sanctions on Moscow that sources said include members of the Russian parliament.

Biden leaves the White House at 8:40 a.m. EDT on a trip that will include talks in Brussels with NATO and European leaders and a visit to Warsaw for consultations with Polish President Andrzej Duda.

Two sources familiar with the situation said Biden and his team were developing plans to impose sanctions on members of the Russian parliament, the Duma, in retaliation for Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The sanctions are expected to be announced on Thursday.

The Wall Street Journal said 300 members of the Duma could face sanctions.

A White House spokesperson said, "no final decisions have been made about who we will sanction and how many we will sanction."

"We will have additional sanctions measures to announce that will be rolled out in conjunction with our allies on Thursday when the president has the opportunity to speak with them," the official said.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Tuesday that Biden on Thursday will attend an emergency NATO summit, meet with G7 leaders and address the 27 leaders of the European Union at a session of the European Council.

Biden will coordinate on the next phase of military assistance to Ukraine, said Sullivan.

In addition to imposing fresh sanctions on Russia, Biden will work with US allies to tighten existing sanctions to "crackdown on evasion and to ensure robust enforcement," Sullivan said.

Biden has vowed not to engage in direct conflict with Russia but has pledged the United States will defend all NATO territory. He has ordered more US troops to NATO's eastern flank to reassure those edgy allies.

During his visit to Poland, Biden will visit US troops and meet with experts involved in the humanitarian response to helping hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who have fled their country and those who remain there.

Netflix removed its app from Google Play and the Apple Store in Russia.