Alleged Russian war crimes, US aid to Ukraine in spotlight nearly one year after invasion

Russia’s war on Ukraine dominated the Sunday morning political talk shows, with U.S. lawmakers and officials discussing alleged Russian war crimes, continued U.S. support for Kyiv and new concerns about potential lethal Chinese aid to Moscow almost one year after the invasion was launched.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday that it’s “starkly clear” Russia has committed crimes against humanity during the war.

Blinken was among a number of U.S. officials and lawmakers who were in Germany for the annual Munich Security Conference, where the Russia-Ukraine war was a top focus.

“The determination that we made — crimes against humanity — that the vice president announced today is unfortunately, starkly clear,” the secretary said. Vice President Harris said the same in a speech on Saturday.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), meanwhile, stressed on ABC’s “This Week” that the U.S. should designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism and start training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets.

“We’re talking about the vice president of the United States declaring that Russia is involved in crimes against humanity in Germany of all places, you know, echoes of World War II. How can she say that — and she is correct — and not give the victim of the crime against humanity the defensive weapons they need to stop the crime?” Graham said, referring to Harris.

“So we need to do two things quickly, make Russia a state sponsor of terrorism under U.S. law, which would make it harder for China to give weapons to Russia, and we need to start training Ukrainian pilots on the F-16 now,” the senator said.

The Biden administration last month approved sending battle tanks to Ukraine, but some are now pushing the Pentagon to answer Kyiv’s calls for F-16 fighter jets.

“We need to throw everything we can into this fight so that they can win,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said of Ukraine on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, adding that he’s hopeful the U.S. will move to supply the fighter jets. “And I think the momentum is building for this to happen.”

Blinken said in another interview aired Sunday on NBC News that the U.S. is also “very concerned” that Beijing is “strongly considering” supplying Moscow with “lethal assistance” that could include both ammunition and weapons.

The revelation comes amid heightened U.S.-China tensions after the Biden administration shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon that had flown over sensitive sites through U.S. airspace, despite Beijing’s assertions that it was a civilian weather balloon blown off-course.

Blinken postponed a scheduled visit to China earlier this month amid the controversy.

“China is trying to have it both ways. Publicly, they present themselves as a country striving for peace in Ukraine. But privately, as I said, we’ve seen already over these past months the provision of non-lethal assistance that does go directly to aiding and abetting Russia’s war effort,” Blinken said from Munich.

“And some further information that we are sharing today … indicates that they are strongly considering providing lethal assistance to Russia,” Blinken said, though he clarified that it didn’t appear China had yet “crossed that line.”

The secretary of State met with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, amid the global conference, their first face-to-face since the balloon incident.

Blinken and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Sunday both warned of “consequences” if China moves to provide lethal aid to Russia.

“We’re not going to advance and announce what we’re planning to do but we made clear to the Chinese that there will be consequences should they make that unfortunate decision,” Thomas-Greenfield said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“Our message to China is China should not do anything that will provide lethal support to the Russians to assist them in their brutal attacks on the Ukrainian people,” the ambassador said, noting that Blinken and President Biden have “made that message clear” in talks with Chinese officials.

Biden is set to arrive in Poland on Tuesday to meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda and deliver remarks on global unity in Warsaw.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on MSNBC’s “The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart” that there are no plans for the president to set foot across the border in Ukraine, but that he’ll reaffirm “a high degree of solidarity with the Ukrainian people” and work to “galvanize support” for Kyiv.

Kirby said on “Fox News Sunday” that the U.S. wants to see an end to the war, but the Biden administration will support Ukraine for “as long as it takes,” even as some in the GOP press for aid to be scaled back.

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