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US Launches Program to Capture, Analyze Evidence of Russian War Crimes in Ukraine


FILE - French forensics investigators, who arrived to Ukraine to investigate war crimes amid Russia's invasion, stand next to a mass grave in the town of Bucha, in Kyiv region, Ukraine, April 12, 2022.

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday announced the launch of a new program to capture and analyze evidence of war crimes and other atrocities perpetuated by Russia in Ukraine, as Washington seeks to ensure Moscow is held accountable for its actions.

The State Department in a statement said the so-called Conflict Observatory will encompass the documentation, verification and dissemination of open-source evidence of Russia's actions in Ukraine. Reports and analyzes will be made available through the Conflict Observatory's website.

U.S. President Joe Biden has hammered Russia over what he calls "major war crimes" committed in Ukraine, and has underscored his resolve to hold Moscow accountable for launching the largest land war in Europe since World War Two.

The Kyiv government has accused Russia of atrocities and brutality against civilians during the invasion and said it has identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes.

Russia denies targeting civilians and says, without evidence, that signs of atrocities were staged.

The U.S. State Department said the new program, which is being established with an initial $6 million investment, will analyze and preserve information, including satellite imagery and information shared on social media, so it can be used in ongoing and future accountability mechanisms.

"This new Conflict Observatory program is part of a range of U.S. government efforts at both national and international levels designed to ensure future accountability for Russia’s horrific actions," the statement said.

A Ukrainian court held a preliminary hearing on Friday in the first war crimes trial arising from Russia's Feb. 24 invasion, after charging a captured Russian soldier with the murder of a 62-year-old civilian.

Russia has bombed cities to rubble and hundreds of civilian bodies have been found in towns where its forces withdrew since starting what it calls a special operation to demilitarize Ukraine. Kyiv and its Western allies say it is a baseless pretext for an unprovoked war.

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