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Who Is Committing the War Crimes?

April 3, 2022 (EIRNS)—U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, showing a great deal of nervous energy in an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” this morning, nonetheless did not jump at interviewer Dana Bash’s crazy question, “Is this genocide?” with respect to images of destroyed buildings and dead bodies in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha. Blinken said, “Look, we will look hard and document everything that we see, put it all together, make sure that the relevant institutions and organizations that are looking at this—including the State Department—have everything they need to assess exactly what took place in Ukraine, who’s responsible, and what it amounts to.”

Evidence of war crimes by Ukrainian forces, under international law, have been admitted to, making charges of Russian war crimes difficult, in several articles in the Washington Post. On March 29 the Post ran a lengthy account of the video of torture of Russian POWs by soldiers with insignia of the Ukrainian armed forces, already reported in the Briefing when the video was circulated by former Virginia State Sen. Richard Black. “The actions depicted would be considered war crimes under the Geneva Conventions, which also prohibit prisoners of war from being used as ‘public curiosity,’ ” the article noted. “Human rights groups have urged Ukraine to stop holding news conferences with captured Russian soldiers and posting their images online, warning that such actions would violate international law.” And it reported a second video, this one circulated by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, showing Azov Battalion and other Ukrainian soldiers stripping and hog-tying Russian POWs in Vilkhivka, near Kharkiv.

The paper reported an advisor to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in what appears to be a strong shift of position, vowing that Ukraine would punish those responsible if an investigation confirmed the first video, taken north of the town of Malaya Rohan. “We are a European army, and we do not mock our prisoners,” said Arestovich, sounding like a Wells Fargo spokesman proclaiming that the bank never cheats its customers.

On March 30, the Post ran a lengthy front-page article (“As Russian Attacks Kill Civilians, Kyiv’s Defense Tactics Add to Their Danger”) explaining that U.S. and U.K. charges of war crimes against Russia would be hard to prove, given that Ukraine was clearly practicing the placement of tanks, artillery and missile launchers in heavily populated neighborhoods, which is a war crime under international law. Richard Weir of Human Rights Watch is quoted that Ukraine “has a responsibility under international law” to remove the forces and equipment, or the civilians, from residential areas. “If they don’t do that, that is a violation of the laws of war,” Weir says. But the same Zelenskyy advisor, Oleksiy Arestovich was quoted having “argued that international humanitarian laws or the laws of war don’t apply” to Ukraine because Putin is threatening to destroy it.

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