Vice President Kamala Harris accused Russia Thursday of committing “atrocities of unimaginable proportion” in Ukraine — while warning the US will “defend every inch of NATO territory” if the war was to spread.
Harris made the commitment while also saying that Russia “absolutely” should be investigated for war crimes amid scenes of “atrocities of unimaginable proportion” during three weeks of his “unjustified” invasion.
“What is at stake at this very moment are some of the guiding principles around the NATO alliance,” Harris said after meeting Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw.
“I’ve said it many times, I will say it again: the United States’ commitment to Article 5 is ironclad,” added the veep, referring to a part of NATO’s charter that states an attack on one member is an attack on all.
“The United States is prepared to defend every inch of NATO territory,” Harris went on. “The United States takes seriously that an attack against one is an attack against all.”
In a clear message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Harris insisted his “unjustified” war had weakened his standing.
“We are very clear that the NATO alliance is stronger and Russia is weaker because of what Putin has done. That is very clear to us,” she said.
In support of NATO’s borders, Harris said the US had recently deployed an additional 4,700 American troops to Poland on top of the “years of rotation of about 5,000 American troops in Poland.”
She also announced that the US was giving an additional $50 million to the United Nations World Food Program to help with humanitarian aid in Ukraine as she condemned Wednesday’s bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol that killed at least three people, including a young child.
“We have been witnessing for weeks — and certainly in the last 24 hours — atrocities of unimaginable proportion,” she said.
“A maternity hospital, a children’s hospital where we have witnessed pregnant women —who were there for care for one reason — being taken out because they required care because of an act of violence,” she said, calling the strike “unprovoked” and “unjustified.”
She said that “absolutely” Russia should be investigated for war crimes, including the hospital attack.
“Pregnant women, going for health care, being injured by …. missiles in an unprovoked, unjustified war?” she asked rhetorically. “For the sake of what? Nothing is justified or provoked. Absolutely there should be an investigation, and we should all be watching.”
Duda agreed, saying, “It is obvious to us that in Ukraine Russians are committing war crimes.”
In his view, the invasion was “bearing the features of a genocide — it aims at eliminating and destroying a nation,” he said.
Harris said the humanitarian aid was a response to “the moral outrage that all civilized nations feel when we’ve looked at what is happening to innocent men, women, children, grandmothers, grandfathers who are fleeing everything they’ve known .”
She also praised Poland for having taken in the majority of the 2.3 million refugees who have fled its eastern neighbor.
“Poland has taken in just a very short period of time in excess of 1.5 million refugees in from Ukraine,” Harris said. “And that has put an extraordinary burden on Poland and the people of Poland. And so we will continue with the support that we can give you.”
Duda asked for extra support.
“I asked Madam Vice President for support as it is quite obvious that such a huge refugee crisis is a surprise for Poland and it is a complicated situation,” he said.
Harris’ visit was “a very clear political message … we have to rescue Ukraine,” Duda said, calling for more sanctions on Russia.
“We stand on the side of the Ukrainian people. We are going to support them with all our strength,” he said.