House delegation documents mass killings in Ukraine

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A pair of Massachusetts congressmen joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers on a trip to Kyiv, where one representative said evidence of Vladimir Putin’s war crimes has been collected.

“He has crossed many lines. He has committed war crimes. He has targeted maternity hospitals. He has engaged in mass killings, which we have now documented,” U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern said Sunday of the Russian president during a press conference in Kyiv.

“The question that should also be asked is whether the world will hold him to account for his war crimes,” the Worcester Democrat said.

U.S. Rep. Bill Keating, a Democrat from Cape Cod, was also part of the delegation. Keating’s office did not return a request for comment.

McGovern’s trip with Pelosi comes nearly three months into Russia’s failed attempt to invade Ukraine and quickly topple the regime of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“Your fight is a fight for everyone,” Pelosi told Zelenskyy at a televised conference.

According to a release from the delegation, this is the first official congressional visit to the region since the start of the war.

Pelosi is the highest ranking U.S. official to make the trip to the war zone so far. Last week, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited the country ahead of the delivery of U.S.-made artillery pieces.

“Our congressional delegation had the solemn opportunity and extraordinary honor of meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other top Ukrainian officials in Kyiv. Our delegation traveled to Kyiv to send an unmistakable and resounding message to the entire world: America stands firmly with Ukraine,” the delegation said in a release.

U.S. Reps. Gregory Meeks, Adam Schiff, Barbara Lee and Jason Crow were also part of the delegation. Pelosi and the rest of the lawmakers will continue to travel, headed next to southeast Poland and Warsaw.

Russia has been attacking its fellow former Soviet state since 2014, when Putin illegally annexed Crimea. The conflict, which continued in a pair of separatist regions during the following eight years, exploded into full scale war in February when the Russian military further invaded the country on three fronts.

Moscow apparently had planned for just days of military actions, but Russian forces have since been stalled in their advances by Ukrainian troops and civilian volunteers armed and trained by a global coalition of nations.

Russia’s response to its own failure has been a steady escalation of violence. In April, images emerged from Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, showing evidence of mass executions and torture of civilians by occupying Russian forces. The war has displaced over 5 million Ukrainian civilians.

President Biden has not yet made a trip to Ukraine. In April he told reporters in New Hampshire that he has been there many times in the past, but would not say if he was planning to make a trip to the country in the future.

Howitzer artillery pieces supplied by the U.S. and other nations began arriving in Ukraine this week.

“We do believe that these howitzers will be … very, very effective in helping (the Ukrainians) in the Donbas fight, which we’ve already seen, is deeply reliant on long-range fires, specifically artillery by both sides,” the Department of Defense said in a release.

Ukrainian forces do not normally operate howitzers and have been receiving training by the U.S. military outside of Ukraine.

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