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War Crimes Seem Evident In Ukraine, But Accountability Is Challenging

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War Crimes Seem Evident In Ukraine, But Accountability Is Challenging

BUCHA, UKRAINE - APRIL 06: A man pushes his bike through debris and destroyed Russian military vehicles on a street on April 06, 2022 in Bucha, Ukraine. The Ukrainian government has accused Russian forces of committing a “deliberate massacre” as they occupied and eventually retreated from Bucha, 25km northwest of Kyiv. Hundreds of bodies have been found in the days since Ukrainian forces regained control of the town. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Reports of civilians being tortured and killed — and the accompanying images that have surfaced this week in the city of Bucha — have raised questions about potential war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine. The Biden administration is assisting international investigators in looking into potential war crimes. And some experts say the evidence of such crimes is clear in this highly-documented conflict.

But history shows that drawing a straight line between war crimes and heads of state is challenging.

NPR’s Scott Detrow spoke with senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, Yulia Gorbunova, about her reporting of alleged human rights violations in Russian-controlled parts of Ukraine.

NPR’s Julie McCarthy examines what constitutes war crimes and the prospects of Russian President Vladimir Putin being held to account.

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