The US has joined the effort to build a case that Russia is committing war crimes in its attack on Ukraine, officials said Monday. "We will support accountability using every tool available, including criminal prosecutions where appropriate," a National Security Council spokesperson said, per NBC News. That includes "collecting evidence of possible war crimes, human rights abuses, and violations of international humanitarian law," the spokesperson said. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that the US is aware of abuses committed in Ukraine that "would constitute a war crime," per CNN.
The United Nations is keeping a registry of civilian deaths in the fighting—364 by midnight Saturday, including 25 children, per the Washington Post, though the true toll is believed to be much higher. The wounded numbered 707, 36 of them children. Most of the deaths came in attacks involving heavy artillery, multiple rocket launchers, missiles, and airstrikes, the UN reported. Ukraine is gathering evidence, as well, for pursuing a case against Russia at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. Visual teams are deployed to bombed places to collect evidence. "The Ukrainians are mobilized as never before," said a military videographer on one team who said he's "making a record of Russia’s crimes. We do believe in The Hague."
The court has said it's launching an investigation of its own. Human Rights Watch has suggested Russia might have committed a war crime by using cluster munitions, banned by international agreement, on residential areas of the city of Kharkiv. President Vladimir Putin assured French President Emmanuel Macron last week that its troops were trying "to preserve the lives of civilians," according to the Kremlin. The US has been hesitant to accuse Russia of war crimes before it has built a strong case and considered the issue thoughtfully, per an analysis in the Post. "We're documenting everything," Blinken said. (Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)