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Tipsheet

State Department Says It is Reviewing What Zelensky is Adamant Amounts to Russian War Crimes

Nicholas Kamm/Pool via AP

State Department Spokesperson Ned Price indicated during a Thursday press conference that the United States has "seen very credible reports of deliberate attacks on civilians, which would, under the Geneva Conventions, constitute a war crime." 

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"We are and will be in the process of marrying reports with evidence from the ground," Price added. "And if we determine, if the international community determines that war crimes have been committed, that atrocities have been committed, that human rights abuses have been committed, we absolutely will hold the perpetrators accountable. Whether they sit in Moscow or whether their commanders on the ground in Ukraine."

This comes after Russians attacked a maternity ward and children's hospital in Mariupol on Wednesday, injuring 17 and killing three. A Thursday report from CNN indicated, though, that this is one of many medical facilities targeted by Russians in their attempts to control Ukraine, citing the World Health Organization (WHO).

As the report mentions:

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there have been 24 verified attacks on health care facilities in Ukraine so far. 

"These attacks have led to at least 12 deaths and 17 injuries. At least 8 of the injured and 2 of the killed were verified to be health workers. The attacks took place between 24 February and 8 March," WHO said Thursday. 

"WHO strongly condemns these attacks. Attacks on health care violate international law and endanger lives. Even in times of conflict, we must protect the sanctity and safety of health care, a fundamental human right," it said in an email to CNN.

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The invasion has gone on for two weeks now, despite Vladimir Putin expecting it to happen much more quickly. Appearing frustrated by the lack of progress, Putin has turned to targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure. 

Such remarks from Price came in the question and answer period, but his official account also tweeted a clip of him mentioning the attack on the maternity ward in a separate part of the press conference, and the impact it has on Ukrainian populations.

Price issued another call on Putin to let Ukrainians flee the inhumane conditions made worse by Russian bombardments, especially as Russians have had a habit of breaking the ceasefire in this conflict. 

"We continue to call on the Russian government to allow civilians to safely depart the cities and towns of Ukraine that are besieged by Russian forces," Price said. "Russia's brutality will make effective long-term control of Ukraine impossible. The Ukrainian people have made clear that they won't stand for it. Putin can take a town, he can capture a city, but it is already clear that he will fail in his effort to take the country of Ukraine and its people."

Price had previously reiterated intentions to hold Russia accountable for any war crimes during an appearance on CNN.

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Vice President Kamala Harris had also called for Putin to be investigated for war crimes, but, as Katie highlighted earlier this morning, her visit there has more so been memorable on account of an inopportune laughing fit. 

Thursday's press conference comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky doubled down on accusing Russia of committing war crimes and called the resulting destruction an "Atrocity!"

Zelensky shared video footage of the hospital over Twitter on Thursday, once more calling for a no-fly zone, which has largely been rejected in the United States and NATO out of fear of bringing about World War III. There are other options, however, or at least there looked to be. 

Such is another issue for the United States in this conflict, as the Biden administration has not only been slow to impose sanctions, but miscommunication when it comes to the United States giving the "green light" for Poland to send MiG fighter planes. Despite Secretary of State Antony Blinken having given that "green light," the Biden administration ultimately shot it down

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In an address, Zelensky also mentioned "we must be united in condemning this war crime of Russia, which reflects all the evil that the invaders brought to our land" and said that the "air bomb on the maternity hospital is the final proof. Proof that the genocide of Ukrainians is taking place."

A CNN update noted that Zelensky has included Russian propagandists as those who "will be held responsible for complicity with war crimes," which comes after Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova had also mentioned Russian "propagandists" and called for a "new model" in investigative efforts when it comes to these war crimes. 

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