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Shaheen, Cornyn Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Document Russian War Crimes in Ukraine

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and a group of bipartisan Senators in introducing the Ukraine Invasion War Crimes Deterrence and Accountability Act. This legislation would ensure the U.S. undertakes coordinated efforts to collect and maintain evidence of war crimes and atrocities committed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“A month and a half into Russia’s bloody invasion in Ukraine, alarming reports of war crimes and grave human rights violations continue to mount. Putin must be held to account for these gross atrocities – to do so, the U.S. must contribute to efforts to collect and review evidence to properly assess the human toll of this war,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’m proud to help introduce bipartisan legislation to ensure our government collects evidence of Russian war crimes that will be needed to prosecute these crimes. Meticulously documenting Russia’s hateful violence now will help deter Russian troops from committing future war crimes. This legislation sends an unwavering bipartisan message from the Senate that the U.S. will demand accountability for growing human rights violations committed across Ukraine’s communities.”

The Ukraine Invasion War Crimes Deterrence and Accountability Act would issue a statement of policy and require a report to Congress within 90 days to ensure the U.S. is undertaking coordinated efforts to collect, analyze and maintain evidence of war crimes and atrocities committed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine as defined in the U.S. Code, and to deter further criminal acts by making Russian commanders, troops and leaders aware of efforts to collect evidence and identify those committing these atrocities. The bill focuses on the collection and maintenance of evidence and does not specify any specific prosecution venue in which such evidence may be used.

The bill is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators 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 Tim Kaine (D-VA).

The House version of this legislation passed the House Committee on Foreign Affairs unanimously and was adopted by the full House by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 418-7 on April 6, 2022.

Senator Shaheen has led action in the U.S. Senate in support of Ukraine in response to Vladimir Putin’s belligerence, which also threatens the stability and security of Eastern Europe and NATO allies. Last month, Shaheen led a bipartisan delegation with Senators Murphy and Tillis to the Western Balkans and Brussels to meet with government officials and civil society to discuss support for the region amid Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Shaheen and members of the Senate Ukraine Caucus also recently met with Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, and members of the Ukrainian Parliament. In April, Congress passed legislation introduced by Shaheen and Cornyn to provide the President with the enhanced authority to more swiftly enter into lend-lease agreements directly with Ukraine and Eastern European countries, speeding the delivery of military equipment. In February, Shaheen led a successful bipartisan effort with Portman to pass a resolution that conveys a renewed and overwhelmingly bipartisan message from the U.S. Senate in fierce support of Ukraine. Earlier this year, Shaheen and Portman led a bipartisan delegation to Ukraine, where they met with President Zelenskyy and members of his administration. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, she supported the inclusion of $13.6 billion in security assistance that was part of government funding legislation signed into law by President Biden.

Senator Shaheen has long led efforts in the Senate to hold Russia accountable for its malign activity against the U.S. and its allies. Because of her role as a negotiator on Russia sanctions legislation known as “CAATSA” and her successful efforts to ban Kaspersky Lab software from operating on U.S. systems, Shaheen was sanctioned by the Kremlin in 2017. Before the Shaheen-Portman congressional delegation visit to Ukraine in January, Shaheen led a bipartisan group of lawmakers to Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, last June.