Evidence of possible war crimes in Ukraine is mounting — and rapidly — thanks to the proliferation of cell phones and other technology such as drones, satellites and CCTV.
“This is a very well-documented crisis. This was not done under cover. It was done in full view of Bellingcat or New York Times satellites reporting the facts,” said David Miliband, CEO of the International Rescue Committee. “It’s the first war with cell phones.”
Miliband, a former Labor Party politician and former British Foreign Secretary, joined CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett this week on “The Takeout” to discuss the war in Ukraine and the humanitarian crisis caused by the crisis. to discuss the Russian invasion. Miliband identified three categories of people suffering from the weeks-long conflict so far: people who are still trapped in cities and unable to get help, such as the citizens of Mariupol, people displaced within Ukraine and people who have fled to neighboring countries outside Ukraine.
He also criticized the US and allies for their slowness to act. They should have “taken literally and seriously the build-up that took place before February 24” when Russia launched its invasion. Although Russia appears to have consolidated its forces and withdrew from the area around Kiev, the country’s capital, “real danger remains,” he told Garrett.
Attacks on civilian structures in Ukraine in recent weeks have led to accusations ofagainst Russia.
“If you are a soldier in a conflict, you have no right to life. But if you are a civilian in the conflict, you have a right to life,” he told Garrett.
Highlights from this week’s episode with David Miliband:
Ukraine war and refugees: “There are three fronts to the humanitarian campaign in Ukraine and its environs. One is for civilians in cities under siege or in cities under attack. The most – the poster child for that, of course, is Mariupol, a city of 450,000 people in the south of the country, southeast of the country. Now 120,000 people have left and a city without water, electricity or heating for six weeks. So also with bombings, but they are not the only ones. So first of all that is a series of huge needs for people who were accountants or journalists or charities or housewives who were just living their own lives just six weeks ago. And they have huge needs in health, food survival. The second group is you get people moving in the country, and that’s much harder to count because they don’t cross a border and that’s where we think there are 3 million, by some estimates 5 million and others… We call them internally displaced persons , they are refugees in their own country… They are Remember, women and children, because the men remain to fight. And so they are already going through the trauma of family separation. They don’t know if they will see their husbands, their fathers, their brothers again. They don’t know if they will see their own home again, but they are now moving to safer areas. Obviously, the course of the war over the past week to two weeks means some are beginning to think about it or even go back. They are people who are on the road in their own country. They need financial support. They need trauma support. They need health support. And then the third group, where you technically find the refugees themselves… Yesterday the UN High Commissioner for Refugees had actually crossed the border with 4.3 million people, mainly Poland, but also Moldova, Hungary. They have entered Europe as refugees, people for whom it is not safe to return to their homeland. And that is the third front of the crisis. Those are people who are safe, so they don’t need, not quoted, to be protected from bombs. But they do have huge needs. They have no idea where their future will be. They need support for their children. Maybe they have medical needs.”
War in Ukraine: “I think Ukraine is an event that takes place for weeks, but reverberates for decades. So I think you are right to highlight both the extraordinary humanitarian need immediately, and the geopolitics, because this is about Europe, but it is also about about America. It’s about the West. It’s about international law. And it’s about the rise of impunity, that’s the hallmark of the war zones where the International Rescue Committee works. The people who are fighters in the fight, both countries, but also non-state actors act outside the law without being held accountable… That is what is at stake in this argument about how to manage international relations, but also how to deal with this interconnected world in which we live.”
imminent threat“We should have taken the build-up that took place before February 24 literally and seriously, as the intelligence services correctly predicted in this case and as the Russian government denied. They denied any suggestion. I mean, Sergei Lavrov was my counterpart as a foreigner minister. He absolutely flatly denied that there was any intent to invade So the fact that the troops will be there, the fact that they will consolidate means the threat remains But remember, they also have the experience of the And that means they will carefully consolidate before taking preventive measures… Ukraine was effectively surrounded and the fact that Belarus in the north should be so strongly within the Russian sphere, and the fact that the south is still under Russian control from Crimea, so there remains a real danger. And so the military dynamic of this, I think, is very open.”
Social media capture more war“This is a very well documented crisis. This was not done under cover. It was done in full view of Bellingcat or New York Times satellites reporting the facts, and they can tell you where the- when the bodies appeared on the road. And they can document that… It’s the first war with cell phones.”
What is a war crime? “International law guarantees the right to life of civilians in conflict. If you are a soldier in a conflict, you have no right to life. But if you are a civilian in the conflict, you have a right to life” And it is the responsibility of combatants in war to uphold that right to life. And what international law shows is that serious violations of international law are war crimes. And so if you bomb a hospital, it’s a war crime. Because there are civilians in there And there’s a lot of dancing around it, sometimes countries say, “Well, the civilians were in – what was next to the soldiers. So we tried to kill the soldiers, and in the end we kill civilians.” That is no excuse, because the requirement of international law is absolute.”
Executive producer: Arden Farhi
Producers: Jamie Benson, Jacob Rosen, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson
CBSN Production: Eric Soussanin
Show Email: TakeoutPodcast@cbsnews.com