The next phase of Russia’s war on Ukraine could last for “months or longer” after Moscow’s forces pulled away from Kyiv as they shift towards the eastern regions, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Monday.
He said that Russia is shifting its focus in the war against Ukraine after realizing the “West will not break” in its support of Kyiv’s government, but warned that Moscow was doubling down on its offensive after its troops retreated from the capital and repositioned towards the east of Ukraine.
Sullivan also added that the US will announce new sanctions against Russia this week after Ukraine reported atrocities committed by the Russian forces in the town of Bucha.
According to the mayor of Bucha, 300 residents were killed by Russian forces. Ukrainian officials entered the town on Sunday and reported mass graves and “executed” civilians. Pictures of bodies littering the streets and corpses with their hands tied behind their backs sparked a global outcry.
Moscow denies targeting civilians and claimed that Kyiv “staged” a “provocation” for Western media.
The US will push to make sure Russian President Vladimir Putin pays for the “war crimes” committed in Ukraine, Sullivan added. Washington will consult with its allies in Europe about the mechanism of that accountability which may take place in the International Criminal Court (ICC) or another venue.
Sullivan said the US will also declare additional military assistance for Ukraine in the coming days.
The US is supporting an international team of persecutors and experts to help gather evidence of atrocities committed by Russian forces in Ukraine and hold Moscow accountable, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.
“We are tracking and documenting atrocities and sharing information with institutions working to hold responsible those accountable,” Price said, adding that reports suggest the atrocities are not the actions of rogue Russian soldiers but rather a part of a “broader, troubling campaign.”
“The terrible death and destruction wrought by the Kremlin’s forces is going to continue as long as Putin continues this senseless, unprovoked war.”