Legislation Passed House Nearly Unanimously Last Month
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Rick Scott (R-FL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Angus King (I-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Gary Peters (D-MI), John Boozman (R-AR), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today introduced the Ukraine Invasion War Crimes Deterrence and Accountability Act, which would ensure the U.S. is undertaking coordinated efforts to collect and maintain evidence of war crimes and atrocities committed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine:
“The reports of Russian war crimes coming out of Ukraine are sickening, and we must ensure these atrocities are properly documented,” said Sen. Cornyn. “The House of Representatives passed this legislation nearly unanimously, and it is imperative that the Senate quickly do the same so we can prosecute these criminals to the fullest extent of the law.”
“Throughout Vladimir Putin’s unjustified and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Russian commanders and troops have committed innumerous horrific war crimes and atrocities against innocent civilians and they must be held accountable,” said Sen. Gillibrand, member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “I am proud to join the bipartisan Ukraine Invasion War Crimes Deterrence and Accountability Act, which will ensure the U.S. is collecting and analyzing evidence of Russia’s war crimes, as well as identifying those responsible, in an effort to hold them accountable and possibly deter additional atrocities. We stand united in our efforts to bring these war criminals to justice.”
Sen. Rick Scott said, “It’s clear that Russian forces, under the control of Vladimir Putin are committing murder, rape and genocide. These atrocities are war crimes and cannot go unpunished. I am proud to join Senator Cornyn and our colleagues on this good bill and make clear that America stands for human rights and will be relentless in our work to hold Putin and his thugs accountable.”
“This effort is an important step in exposing Putin’s campaign of war crimes against innocent Ukrainians. Men, women, and children from Mariupol to Bucha have laid lifeless in the street, victims of unspeakable atrocities committed by Putin’s barbaric invasion. Gathering and analyzing evidence will assist in prosecuting and holding accountable those complicit in these Russian atrocities. The full force of U.S. and international law must be brought to bear,” said Sen. Blumenthal.
“While Russian troops at the direction of Putin are invading a sovereign country and committing heinous crimes against the Ukrainian people, President Biden and Congress must work together on a coordinated response to war crimes,” said Sen. Tillis. “This legislation will require a report to Congress on everything the United States is doing to respond to the war in Ukraine and keep a record of any evidence of war crimes. We must hold Putin’s regime accountable for starting this unprovoked war against a free and sovereign democracy and spilling the blood of innocent people.”
“Russia’s barbaric invasion has devastated Ukraine, demolished cities, and killed an untold number of Ukrainians who want nothing more than to leave peacefully in their home country. This unprovoked assault is horrific, and it is absolutely essential that those responsible pay the consequences,” said Sen. King. “Our bipartisan bill is an important step to hold Vladimir Putin and his accomplices accountable for their atrocities – and puts Russian leaders on notice that the world is watching their every step.”
“The world has watched in horror as Putin has used brute military force in an attempt to subjugate the peaceful country of Ukraine, killing countless innocent civilians in his path,” said Sen. Collins. “From Bucha to Mariupol, the abject cruelty and viciousness of the Russian occupation have been on full display. Our bill would help ensure that these atrocities are identified and preserved, exposing war crimes committed by Putin, Russian generals, and soldiers. As we continue to support the Ukrainians in their fight to defend their people and their democracy, this effort will place additional pressure on Russia to bring an end to this terrible war.”
“Vladimir Putin and the Russian troops under his command must be held accountable for the heinous war crimes being committed against innocent Ukrainians. Our bill will ensure that evidence is preserved so war criminals may one day be brought to justice and these atrocities are never forgotten,” said Sen. Feinstein.
“Vladimir Putin and his soldiers are war criminals,” said Sen. Blackburn. “Intentionally targeting civilians and willfully causing widespread destruction in a sovereign nation cannot be enabled by the freest country in the world’s silence. This legislation will keep a close record of the evidence necessary for a war crimes conviction and deter perpetrators from engaging in this horrific violence.”
“The atrocities we are seeing every single day being committed against innocent Ukrainians are horrendous and unacceptable – and Vladimir Putin and the Russian military must be held accountable for these crimes,” said Sen. Peters, former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Ukrainian Caucus. “This bipartisan legislation will ensure we have the evidence needed so that the Russian government cannot hide behind their crimes. I’m proud to stand with the Ukrainian people against the Russian government’s illegal invasion and will continue working to make sure we have a strong, unified front with Ukraine.”
“The world has watched Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine unfold with brutal and devastating effect. Vladimir Putin, his forces and enablers must be held accountable for the destruction and suffering they have caused. This legislation will help ensure the record is crystal clear and these perpetrators do not escape responsibility for the atrocities they have directed, committed and lauded,” Sen. Boozman said.
“Since Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine began, there has been overwhelming evidence that Russia has been committing serious war crimes, including indiscriminately targeting civilians,” said Sen. Kaine. “This bipartisan bill is a necessary step to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions. We must send a strong message to Putin and authoritarians around the world that these crimes will not be tolerated.”
“A month and a half into Russia’s bloody invasion in Ukraine, alarming reports of war crimes and grave human rights violations continue to mount. Putin must be held to account for these gross atrocities – to do so, the U.S. must contribute to efforts to collect and review evidence to properly assess the human toll of this war,” said Sen. Shaheen. “I’m proud to help introduce bipartisan legislation to ensure our government collects evidence of Russian war crimes that will be needed to prosecute these crimes. Meticulously documenting Russia’s hateful violence now will help deter Russian troops from committing future war crimes. This legislation sends an unwavering bipartisan message from the Senate that the U.S. will demand accountability for growing human rights violations committed across Ukraine’s communities.”
The House version of this legislation passed the House Committee on Foreign Affairs unanimously and was adopted by the full House by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 418-7 on April 6, 2022.
The Ukraine Invasion War Crimes Deterrence and Accountability Act would issue a statement of policy and require a report to Congress within 90 days to ensure the U.S. is undertaking coordinated efforts to collect, analyze, and maintain evidence of war crimes and atrocities as defined in the U.S. Code committed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine and to deter the commission of such crimes by making Russian commanders, troops, and leaders aware of efforts to collect evidence and identify those committing these atrocities. The bill focuses on the development and maintenance of evidence and does not specify any specific prosecution venue in which such evidence may be used.