Biden says it's 'clear' Russian forces are targeting Ukrainian civilians, but too 'early to say' if they're committing war crimes

Joe Biden
(Image credit: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

President Biden told reporters Wednesday that Russian forces are deliberately targeting Ukrainian civilians but that he cannot yet say with certainty whether Russia has committed war crimes, The Hill reports.

When asked if Russia was intentionally targeting civilians in Ukraine, Biden said, "It's clear they are." In response to a follow-up question about war crimes, Biden said, "We are following it very closely. It's early to say that," per The Hill.

Ukrainian emergency services say more than 2,000 civilians have been killed since the invasion began on Thursday, Reuters reports. Heavy shelling and bombing have devastated the center of Kharkiv, a city of 1.5 million that Russian forces have completely encircled. In Kyiv, Russian strikes damaged the city's main TV tower and nearly destroyed a Holocaust memorial, according to The Associated Press. "[T]hey all have orders to erase our history, erase our country, erase us all," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in response to the attack.

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The United Nations' definition of war crimes includes "intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population" and "against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, [and] historic monuments."

The Kyiv Independent reported on Monday that Russian forces had destroyed a museum in the Ukrainian city of Ivankiv.

Per The Hill, the International Criminal Court began a war crimes investigation related to the Russian invasion earlier this week and is also examining "previous claims stemming from Russia's occupation of Crimea in 2014."

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Grayson Quay

Grayson Quay was the weekend editor at His writing has also been published in National Review, the Pittsburgh Post-GazetteModern AgeThe American ConservativeThe Spectator World, and other outlets. Grayson earned his M.A. from Georgetown University in 2019.