Durbin: America Will Hold Russia Accountable for War Crimes

In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin reflects on the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Ukraine and accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Co-Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, warned Vladimir Putin that he will be held accountable for the atrocities committed in Ukraine. This morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing entitled, “From Nuremberg to Ukraine: Accountability for War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity,” which focused on the role the U.S. must play in holding Putin and Russia accountable for these heinous acts.Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin recently told Durbin they have documented nearly 35,000 war crimes.

“We’ve all had a chance to bear witness to the brutal reality of Russia’s invasion over the past several weeks as Ukrainian forces have recaptured territories like the city of Izyum. Soon after the city was liberated, Ukrainian forces discovered mass graves filled with hundreds of bodies—including children. Some of the bodies had their hands tied behind their backs, or their skulls crushed, and many showed signs of torture. The images that have emerged from Izyum prove what we have suspected for some time: The mountain of evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine is sky-high,” said Durbin.

Durbin continued, “The message of the hearing was clear: Our nation must continue the legacy we began with the Nuremberg trials by ensuring that Russian war criminals are brought to justice. And a critical step in doing so is making sure that the perpetrators of these atrocities find no safe haven anywhere in the world, let alone the United States.”

Durbin and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Justice for Victims of War Crimes Act, legislation that updates the current war crimes statute to enable prosecution of foreign war criminals in the United States regardless of the location or targets of their atrocities. The bill also extends the statute of limitations for war crimes discovered years after they occur. 

Durbin concluded, “It’s a starting point. And I hope it’s one we can build from to finally enact a law in this country prohibiting crimes against humanity. This an opportunity to send a clear signal to war criminals—like those in Russia—who have systematically attacked civilian populations: America will hold you accountable for your crimes.” 

Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.