Congress reviewing evidence of possible Russian war crimes in Ukraine

WASHINGTON — After months of horrific attacks in Ukraine that have killed thousands, members of Congress want to hold Russians accountable for the potential war crimes.

Some experts say this will be one of the most documented cases of war crimes because of the people on the ground, from Ukrainians to journalists who are covering this invasion.

READ MORE: What are war crimes, and could Russia be committing them in Ukraine?

Federal lawmakers say they want this information collected and analyzed so they can hold President Putin and others accountable.

Recently, dozens of states in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe started reviewing possible cases of war crimes.

The report found “clear patterns of international humanitarian law violations by the Russian forces,” and it recommended additional investigations.

Some experts say it will be difficult to prosecute Russians for these allegations if they don’t leave the country.

MORE: Russia attacks Ukraine: Putin defends invasion in speech at military parade

But they say several countries have incorporated the ability to prosecute war crimes regardless of someone’s nationality or where the crimes were committed.

“The minute one of these potential perpetrators steps foot outside of Russia, they could be subject to investigation, being taken into custody, to be extradited to a court that’s willing to exercise jurisdiction over them and then subject to justice,” said Beth van Schaack, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice.

Ambassador van Schaack said the United States has a limited war crimes statute, but she said the U.S. State Department is supporting Ukrainian courts with resources for future legal proceedings.