Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a clear violation of the U.N. Charter and threatens to upend the rules-based international order established after World War II. With each passing day, there are a growing number of reports of indiscriminate attacks by Russia that likely constitute war crimes. Global outcry over Russia's alleged atrocities has included war crimes accusations at the highest levels, with President Joe Biden calling Russian President Vladimir Putin "a war criminal."
To ensure accountability for crimes committed—and to attempt to deter future ones—it is imperative that the international community act swiftly to pursue justice; establish accountability mechanisms where needed for those committing crimes in Ukraine, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression; and enforce penalties. While these steps are unlikely to alter Putin's current course, if Russian soldiers and lower-level leaders see that there is a unified and determined effort to ensure they will be held accountable for atrocities committed against the Ukrainian people, they may change their calculus in carrying out Putin's orders. The international community's message must be clear: Russia's acts of aggression and any human rights violations against the Ukrainian people will not go unpunished.