House passes bill to document Russian war crimes in Ukraine

The House passed bipartisan legislation on Wednesday that would require the Biden administration to detail its efforts to collect evidence of war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine.

The bill passed handily by a vote of 418-7. All seven votes in opposition were from Republicans.

A spokesman for Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) confirmed that she mistakenly voted against the bill and will inform the House clerk that she meant to vote for it. 

The Republicans who opposed the bill were Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Warren Davidson (Ohio), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Thomas Massie (Ky.) and Scott Perry (Pa.). 

Passage of the bill comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of engaging in war crimes and genocide after surveying the carnage in the city of Bucha this week.

Ukrainian officials reported finding hundreds of people buried in mass graves and bodies of executed civilians lying in the streets.

The measure approved by the House would specifically require the Biden administration to outline the process for the U.S. government to collect and preserve evidence of war crimes committed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that began in late February. It would also require the Biden administration to submit a report to Congress about the process for a domestic, foreign or international court or tribunal should one request information from the U.S. about war crimes.

“Each day, we see a growing body of horrifying evidence of atrocities that Russian troops have reaped on Ukrainian citizens,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), who introduced the bill with the panel’s ranking Republican, Rep. Michael McCaul (Texas).

“We can and we must ensure that the United States of America is doing everything in its power to collect evidence to prosecute Russian war crimes and other atrocities. And hopefully that will deter further systemic human rights abuses in this conflict,” Meeks said.

President Biden said Monday said that Russian President Vladimir Putin should face trial for war crimes. 

“This guy is brutal, and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous, and everyone has seen it,” Biden said of Putin. The Biden administration on Wednesday announced another wave of sanctions targeting Russia’s two largest banks, Putin’s daughters and other key Russian officials.

A senior administration official said that the sanctions are being imposed in coordination with Western allies in response to “the sickening brutality” found in Bucha.

“These horrific atrocities in Bucha have made one thing crystal clear: No country, no country, can remain neutral in the face of this evil. The entire world needs to rally against Mr. Putin and these war crimes,” McCaul said Wednesday.

Laura Kelly contributed.

Tags Biden Gregory Meeks Joe Biden Liz Cheney Michael McCaul Vladimir Putin Volodymyr Zelensky

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