Ukraine’s ambassador to the US accused Russia of war crimes for attacking Ukrainians with powerful vacuum bombs during Vladimir Putin’s continued invasion of his neighboring country.
“They used the vacuum bomb today, which is actually prohibited by the Geneva Convention,” Oksana Markarova told reporters on Capitol Hill on Monday. “The devastation that Russia is trying to inflict on Ukraine is large, but we Ukrainians will resist. We are defending our home, we do not have any other option. We will not get tired, we will not stop, we will not surrender, we will continue defending our home.”
Vacuum bombs, also known as thermobaric weapons, suck in oxygen to create high temperature and high-pressure explosions that can cause widespread destruction and death.
There hasn’t been independent confirmation that Russia has used vacuum bombs in Ukraine. On Saturday, CNN reporters near the Ukraine-Russia border said they identified a Russian thermobaric rocket launcher.
Markarova said Russia is targeting orphanages and schools in Ukrainian cities.
“We believe Russia, which is now acting like Nazi Germany during the World War II, essentially killing innocent civilians,” Markarova said. “It’s horrible, they have to pay the price, they have to be isolated.”
She said Ukraine is working with the Biden administration and Congress to secure more weapons.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) who was among the senators meeting with Markarova behind closed doors Monday, told Politico the current crisis calls for unity.
“This is the most dangerous moment since the Cuban missile crisis,” Murphy said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration has not confirmed reports of Russia using thermobaric weapons.
“If that were true, it would potentially be a war crime,” Psaki said.
World leaders have expressed alarm over Russia’s tactics during the invasion.
“It is clear that Vladimir Putin is prepared to use barbaric and indiscriminate tactics against innocent civilians to bomb tower blocks, to send missiles into tower blocks, to kill children, as we’re seeing in increasing numbers,” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Tuesday from Warsaw.
Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, pledged an expansive investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.
Ukrainian and Russian delegations held talks Monday on the Belarus border, with no immediate breakthrough. Both parties said they would seek a second round of talks.