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Kaine & Cornyn Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Document Russian War Crimes in Ukraine

Legislation Passed House Nearly Unanimously Last Month

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), joined Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and a bipartisan group of his Senate colleagues today in introducing the Ukraine Invasion War Crimes Deterrence and Accountability Act, which would ensure the U.S. is undertaking coordinated efforts to collect and maintain evidence of war crimes and atrocities committed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Since Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine began, there has been overwhelming evidence that Russia has been committing serious war crimes, including indiscriminately targeting civilians,” said Senator Kaine. “This bipartisan bill is a necessary step to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions. We must send a strong message to Putin and authoritarians around the world that these crimes will not be tolerated.”

“The reports of Russian war crimes coming out of Ukraine are sickening, and we must ensure these atrocities are properly documented,” said Sen. Cornyn. “The House of Representatives passed this legislation nearly unanimously, and it is imperative that the Senate quickly do the same so we can prosecute these criminals to the fullest extent of the law.”  

The Ukraine Invasion War Crimes Deterrence and Accountability Act would establish that it is the policy of the United States to collect, analyze, and maintain evidence of war crimes and atrocities as defined in the U.S. Code committed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and require the President to send a report to Congress within 90 days that provides details on U.S. government efforts to collect, analyze, and maintain that evidence. The report would also include information on steps the U.S. government is taking to make Russian commanders, troops, and leaders aware of efforts to collect evidence and identify those committing these atrocities. The bill focuses on the development and maintenance of evidence and does not specify any specific prosecution venue in which such evidence may be used.

The House version of the Ukraine Invasion War Crimes Deterrence and Accountability Act was passed by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs unanimously, and later adopted by the full House by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 418-7 on April 6, 2022.

Kaine was one of the first members of Congress to call for a war crimes investigation, and applauded International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim Khan’s announcement that he will launch an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine. Kaine and his colleagues also sent a letter urging U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Linda Thomas-Greenfield to introduce a resolution at the UN to remove Russia from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). The UN General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the UNHRC on April 7.

In addition to Kaine and Cornyn, the legislation was also introduced by Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Rick Scott (R-FL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Angus King (I-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Gary Peters (D-MI), John Boozman (R-AR), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).