US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that the State Department would help document any atrocities the Russian military committed against Ukrainian civilians, following new images from AFP out of the town of Bucha northwest of Kyiv showing the bodies of at least 20 civilian men found lying strewn across the street.
“You can’t help but see these images as a punch to the gut,” Blinken told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” Sunday. “Since the aggression, we’ve come out and said that we believe that Russian forces have committed war crimes, and we’ve been working to document that, to provide the information we have to the relevant instructions and organizations that will put all of this together. And there needs to be accountability for it,” he said.
Last month, the US State Department formally accused Russian forces of war crimes in Ukraine. Asked Sunday whether Russian troops were committed genocide, Blinken said, “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.”
“I think the most important thing is we can’t become numb to this, we can’t normalize this,” Blinken added. “This is the reality that’s going on every day as long as Russia’s brutality against Ukraine continues. That’s why it needs to come to an end.”
Blinken declined to confirm reporting from CNN and others that the US was helping facilitate the transfer of Soviet-era tanks to Ukraine, which was one of the weapons systems Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been seeking.
But Blinken said the US and NATO countries were helping to get Ukraine the weapons it needed, adding there would soon be 10 anti-tank weapons systems in Ukraine for every one Russian tank that’s in Ukrainian territory.
“Across the board, what we’re trying to do is make sure the Ukrainians have the systems they need that they can use and they can use right away,” Blinken said.
Asked about the prospect of Ukraine maintain neutrality between the West and Russian as part of a negotiated end to the war, Blinken said the Biden administration would support what the Ukrainians want to maintain their sovereignty.
“When it comes to the future, we and allies and partners are going to want to make sure to do everything we can to ensure that this can’t happen again and that Ukraine has the means to defend itself, to deter further Russian aggression,” he said. “So we will look at anything we can do back up that kind of outcome.”