Russia Accused of War Crimes by Poland as Kamala Harris Looks On

Poland's president said Russians are clearly committing war crimes in Ukraine, while Vice President Kamala Harris stopped short of directly making the same accusation.

"It is obvious to us that in Ukraine Russians are committing war crimes," Polish President Andrzej Duda said, according to the Associated Press.

Harris, who appeared at a Thursday press conference alongside the president, said Russia's actions in Ukraine should be investigated. She added that the U.N. has already started a process to review alleged war crimes, but she didn't say that Russia had committed such acts, as Poland's leader did.

Several nations have accused Russia of committing war crimes against Ukraine since the invasion began two weeks ago. The U.K.'s Ministry of Defense said in a tweet on Wednesday that Russia has admitted to using "vacuum bombs," while other governments have reported Russian airstrikes hitting hospitals and targeting civilian areas, resulting in a large number of casualties.

At the press conference in Warsaw, Harris expressed anger over the Wednesday bombing of a maternity hospital in the city of Mariupol, in southeastern Ukraine. At least 17 people were reported injured, and there is mass destruction in the area, the AP said.

"I have no question the eyes of the world are on this war and what Russia has done in terms of this aggression and these atrocities," Harris said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded for Ukrainian airspace to be closed following the attack. He posted a video on Twitter Wednesday showing severe damage from the bombing, which he called an "atrocity."

"People, children are under the wreckage. Atrocity! How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror? Close the sky right now! Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to be losing humanity," Zelensky wrote on Twitter.

The U.S. is collecting evidence of possible war crimes that Russia has committed in Ukraine, a spokesperson for the National Security Council told CNBC. The spokesperson said Russian airstrikes have reportedly hit residential buildings, an orphanage, schools and hospitals. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN on Sunday these kinds of attacks against civilians constitute a war crime.

Meanwhile, the White House said the vice president was in Poland and Romania to consult with the leaders about the humanitarian crisis and the surging number of refugees caused by Russia's assault on Ukraine.

More than 2 million people have already fled Ukraine in just two weeks. Poland has received 1.4 million refugees, with even more expected in the near future. Duda said he is concerned about a "refugee disaster" if the country doesn't receive more assistance to help the refugees, the AP reported.

Update 03/10/22, 10 a.m. ET: This story was updated with additional information and background.

War Crime Accusations
Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday embraced calls for an international war crimes investigation of Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. Above, Harris speaks at the South Carolina Democratic Party State Convention on June 22, 2019, in Columbia. Sean Rayford/Getty Images