Seven Republicans have voted against investigating evidence of war crimes potentially committed by Russian troops in Ukraine, including U.S. Representative Liz Cheney, who voted ‘no’ by mistake.
The motion, called the Ukraine Invasion War Crimes Deterrence and Accountability Act, has the goal to “collect, analyze, and preserve evidence and information related to war crimes and any other atrocities” committed by Russian armed forces in Ukraine. The bill passed in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, with 418 voting in favor and only seven Republicans voting against it.
Four Republican representatives did not vote.
The seven who voted ‘nay’ were Arizona’s Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar, Ohio’s Warren Davidson, Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene, Kentucky’s Thomas Massie, Pennsylvania’s Scott Perry, and Wyoming’s Liz Cheney.
CNN’s Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju reported that Cheney voted ‘Nay’ by mistake and has already communicated to the House that she meant to vote “Yea.”
“Today, the House voted to condemn the atrocious actions carried out by Russian forces, under the direction of Vladimir Putin, in areas under their control in Ukraine,” said the House majority leader Steny Hoyer in a statement released after the bill passed.
“The legislation we passed, which I was proud to support, will advance a process of investigating war crimes committed as part of Putin’s unprovoked war of choice against the Ukrainian people.
“The images we have now seen from Bucha and other places – as well as the continued brutal attacks on civilians in Mariupol and Russia’s prevention of humanitarian aid reaching those who need it – are shocking the conscience of our country and the world.
“Vladimir Putin and those acting at his behest must be held fully accountable under the laws of armed conflict. Justice must be served for the innocent victims of Putin’s criminal invasion of Ukraine.”
The bill is expected to pass the full House this week. If approved by the Senate, the motion will move to the President before becoming law.
This would oblige the U.S. Department of State to collect and preserve evidence of Russian atrocities committed in Ukraine and pass it on to Congress and bodies like the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice, and Ukrainian courts.
The bill follows the announcement made by Secretary of State Antony Blinken on March 23 that the Biden administration determined that Russian troops had committed war crimes in Ukraine.
A week before the formal announcement by Blinken, President Joe Biden had called Vladimir Putin a “war criminal,” an accusation Biden has repeated after images of extrajudicial killings of civilians in Bucha were revealed to the world.
Biden said he will call for a war crimes trial against Putin. But the logistics of bringing the Russian president in front of an international court would be complicated, and makes such a trial unlikely at present.