U.S. Has 'Credible' Reports of Russian War Crimes in Ukraine, Blinken Says

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday said the United States has credible reports of Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

Since Russia began its invasion in February, reports of attacks on civilians quickly began emerging, prompting some leaders to accuse Russia of war crimes. However, the Biden administration has been more cautious, stopping short of making those accusations.

On Sunday, Blinken acknowledged that the U.S. government has seen "very credible" reports of deliberate attacks on Ukrainian civilians, which he said "would constitute war crimes." He also pointed to the use of certain weapons, during his appearance on CNN's State of the Union.

"What we're doing right now is documenting all of this, putting it all together. Looking at it and making sure that as people and the appropriate organizations and institutions investigate whether war crimes happened or being committed, that we can support whatever they are doing," he said.

On Friday, the U.S. Department of State said they were "assessing" whether or not Russia's attack on Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia plant, the largest nuclear power facility in Europe, constituted a war crime. The U.S. embassy in Kyiv said the attack was indeed a war crime, prompting the Department of State to send a memo directing embassies to not retweet the claim.

When contacted by Newsweek Sunday morning, a U.S. Department of State spokesperson referred to Blinken's comments.

Also on State of the Union, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said there needs to be a "strong and clear investigation" into whether or not war crimes have been committed.

"We need to make the case real clear and without any doubt," she told host Jake Tapper.

On Thursday, International Criminal Court (ICC) investigators set off to begin searching for evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide in Ukraine, according to Reuters. The ICC prosecutes those who are responsible for war crimes, with Ukraine giving the court jurisdiction on its territory in 2014.

Several incidents including an attack on a kindergarten and orphanage, reported use of a vacuum bomb, a cluster bomb strike near a hospital and other strikes near civilian areas have been pointed to as examples of war crimes since the start of the invasion.

The use of cluster and vacuum bombs have been denounced by more than 100 countries. Their use could be considered a breach of the Geneva Convention, which sets the standard of humanitarian treatment during war. Indiscriminate attacks that either kill or injure civilians also constitute as a war crime.

President Joe Biden on Wednesday said that it is "clear" that Russia is intentionally targeting civilian areas, but also said it is "too early to say" whether war crimes had committed.

Antony Blinken says Russian war crimes
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, above in Poland on Saturday, acknowledged that the United States has credible reports of war crimes by Russia. Omar Marques/Getty Images