The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine has declared attacking a nuclear power plant a war crime, after Russia on Friday seized a Ukrainian nuclear facility that is the largest in Europe.
The statement on the embassy’s Twitter account went further than any US characterization of Russia’s actions in Ukraine since it launched its February 24 invasion.
“It is a war crime to attack a nuclear power plant. Putin’s bombing of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant takes his reign of terror one step further,” the US Embassy in Kyiv said in its message.
Invading Russian forces seized Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Zaporozhzhia, during fierce fighting in southeastern Ukraine and sparked global alarm. But a fire at a training building was put out and officials said the facility was now safe.
The Russian Defense Ministry blamed the factory fire on a “monstrous attack” by Ukrainian saboteurs and said its forces had the situation under control.
The State Department sent a message to all US embassies in Europe telling them not to retweet the Kiev embassy’s tweet calling the attack a war crime, according to CNN, which said it reviewed the message.
Human rights groups have alleged violations of international war crimes law in Ukraine, including the targeting of civilians, as well as indiscriminate attacks on schools and hospitals.
On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden refrained from calling Russia’s actions a war crime, saying, “It’s too early to tell.
Britain has publicly accused Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government of war crimes.
The ICC, the world’s top war crimes prosecutor, at the request of 39 member states, is investigating reports of cluster bombs and artillery strikes on Ukrainian towns.