Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Germany over the weekend to attend the Munich Security Conference (MSC). Her number one objective was calling out Russia for its “barbaric and inhumane” crimes against humanity during the country’s continued war with Ukraine, and other countries agreed. However, accusing the Kremlin of such atrocities is one thing, but will anything come of it? And China claims there needs to be peace while moving behind the scenes to possibly support Russia.
Harris Demands Russia Pay for Its Crimes Against Humanity
Harris delivered her speech at the Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich, soliciting assistance from other countries to declare President Vladimir Putin’s wartime activities crimes against humanity. “First, from the starting days of this unprovoked war, we have witnessed Russian forces engage in horrendous atrocities and war crimes,” she said:
“Russian forces have pursued a widespread and systemic attack against a civilian population – gruesome acts of murder, torture, rape, and deportation. Execution-style killings, beatings and electrocution.
“Russian authorities have forcibly deported hundreds of thousands of people from Ukraine to Russia, including children. They have cruelly separated children from their families.”
As evidence, Harris mentioned how Russian troops deliberately attacked civilian targets, including a maternity hospital where bombing killed a pregnant woman and a theater in Mariupol where hundreds of patrons were lost. She mentioned Bucha, where men and women were shot and left in the streets to rot. And she topped off the list with a UN report on a four-year-old girl who was allegedly sexually assaulted by a Russian soldier. “In the face of these indisputable facts, to all of us here in Munich, let us renew our commitment to accountability. Let us renew our commitment to the rule of law,” Harris said. “As for the United States, we will continue to support the judicial process in Ukraine and international investigations because justice must be served. Let us all agree, on behalf of all the victims, known and unknown: Justice must be served.”
Despite recent grumblings about the amount of money the United States is sending to Ukraine, Harris vowed that funding for the war-torn country would not end any time soon. She promised that America would “strongly support” Ukraine “for as long as it takes.” She added: “There will be more dark days in Ukraine. The daily agony of war will persist. But if Putin thinks he can wait us out, he’s badly mistaken. Time is not on his side.” As proof of US dedication, the vice president mentioned how many congressional leaders, from both sides of the aisle, were in attendance, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed the VP’s statements, saying the government has a “profound stake” in a “just and durable” peace in Ukraine. “Any peace has to be consistent with the principles of the United Nations Charter,” he said. “It is fundamentally against the interests of every other country around the world to wind up with a result that somehow indicates the seizure by force of territory, that validates that.” He continued:
“Because if we do that, we will open a Pandora’s box around the world, and every would-be aggressor will conclude that if Russia got away with it, we can get away with it. And that’s not in anyone’s interest because it’s a recipe for a world of conflict.”
So, was all this talk just that? Bluster without any teeth? As it stands, it is mostly symbolic and does not call for any consequences. Nor does it allow the United States the ability to prosecute any Russians involved in crimes against humanity. So what good does it do? For one thing, it could provide the International Criminal Court and other organizations that work to hold those accountable with evidence to try to prosecute.
“We reserve crimes against humanity determinations for the most egregious crimes,” Blinken said. “These acts are not random or spontaneous; they are part of the Kremlin’s widespread and systematic attack against Ukraine’s civilian population.”
Since the war broke out in 2022, the United States has provided $30 million to investigate war crimes allegedly committed by the Russians in Ukraine. Now, the Biden administration wants to spend another $30 million to continue the investigation.
China Wants It Both Ways
Harris expressed her concern over North Korea, Iran, and Beijing supporting Russia and gave a warning to the Chinese government. “Looking ahead, any steps by China to provide lethal support to Russia would only reward aggression, continue the killing and further undermine a rules-based order.”
Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said he was “deeply worried” about the “long-term effect of this war” and warned against the return of a “Cold War mentality,” NPR reported. While calling for peace talks, he claimed there are some players who have no interest in seeing the war end soon because of “bigger strategic goals than Ukraine.” However, he didn’t say what those goals were or who those players might be. “Wang said that maintaining peace across the Taiwan Strait meant opposing Taiwanese independence forces,” NPR reported.
On the last night of the conference, Blinken and Wang held the first high-level meeting between the United States and China since the alleged Chinese spy balloon was shot down. Noticeably absent from the conference this year were the Russians, who were not invited. MSC Chair Christoph Heusgen said he didn’t want the Russians to use the event as a podium for their propaganda.
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