The US State Department is urging US embassies across Europe to not repost a tweet from the US Embassy in Kyiv which called Russia’s attack on a nuclear plant “a war crime,” according to multiple reports.
An internal message obtained by NBC News and CNN revealed the Department is urgently urging the embassies to avoid sharing language posted by the Kyiv envoy, or delete their post if they already have.
“All – do not/not retweet Embassy Kyiv’s tweet on shelling of the facility being a possible war crime” the message reportedly reads. “If you have retweeted it – un-retweet it ASAP.”
The warning comes just hours after the Kyiv embassy tweeted in response to the overnight Russian assault on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the largest facility of its kind in Europe.
“It is a war crime to attack a nuclear power plant. Putin’s shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear plant takes his reign of terror one step further. #TheHague #Zaporizhzhia #StandwithUkraine,” the embassy’s official Twitter account posted.
It is unclear if the State Department’s warning to other embassies is to avoid antagonizing Russian President Vladimir Putin further, as the White House has publicly avoided using such language in recent days.
On Wednesday, in response to a reporter who asked: “Do you believe Russia is committing war crimes in Ukraine?” President Biden said: “We are following it very closely. It’s early to say that.”
A day later, White House press secretary Jen Psaki backed the president’s caution.
“President Zelensky has said Russia’s actions clearly constitute a war crime. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said that Russia’s targeting of civilians fully qualifies as a war crime. The President wouldn’t go that far when he was asked yesterday. Why has he been reluctant to label Russia’s actions a war crime?” a reporter asked during a press briefing.
“Well, there is a process and we have stood up a process internally — an internal team — to assess and look at and evaluate evidence of what we’re seeing happen on the ground,” Psaki answered.
“That is a standard part of our process in the US government. I would note that we work very closely with our international partners, and we will provide any information that we surface through that process.”
Psaki did acknowledge that the administration has received reports detailing “a range of barbaric tactics” by Russia, including targeting civilians.
“That’s all factors that we look at,” she said. “And again, that interag- that process that has been stood up would provide any information to the ICC [International Criminal Court] or any other international body taking a look at this.”
The International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into reported Russian war crimes, however neither the US nor Russia are members of the body.
The State Department did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.