Chairman McCaul Delivers Opening Remarks at Full Committee Hearing on Exposing Putin’s Crimes and Atrocities in UkrainePress Release
Washington, D.C. – Today, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul gave the following remarks at a full committee hearing on exposing Putin’s war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine.
– Remarks as Delivered –
We just heard two horrific and heartbreaking stories from victims of Russia’s ongoing war crimes in Ukraine. Sadly, those were just two examples of the more than 80,000 war crimes that the Prosecutor General’s office has recorded.
From the beginning of Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, Russian troops have been engaging in unspeakable acts against the Ukrainian people.
To break the will of the Ukrainian people, Russia has employed the use of terror through barbaric war crimes, from sexual violence, including the rape of children and the elderly, to mass executions and torture – all targeted at innocent civilians.
Shortly after this unprovoked invasion, I introduced the Ukraine Invasion War Crimes Deterrence and Accountability Act, which was signed into law.
It requires the administration to report to Congress on the U.S. response to war crimes being committed in Ukraine. Disappointingly, the administration has failed to provide this report to date.
Over the last 14 months, what we have witnessed is bone chilling:
- The bombing of a maternity hospital;
- Corpses littering the streets of Bucha, hands tied behind their backs and bullets in their heads, some of them decapitated;
- Mothers raped in front of their children, and young girls in front of their families;
- The bodies of innocent Ukrainians half-buried in mass graves;
- Countless torture chambers throughout Russian occupied territory;
- Mobile crematoriums used to dispose the evidence of their indiscriminate killings;
- The bombardment of apartments and public buildings providing refuge to children and the elderly, including a theater in Mariupol that had the word “CHILDREN” written outside, so large in Russian, you could see it from satellites.
Ahead of the one-year anniversary of the invasion, I led a Congressional Delegation to Ukraine, including Representatives Issa and Self, who sit on this committee.
We met with the Prosecutor General Kostin, who is before us here today, personally escorted us to Bucha to see the site of the first mass grave discovered and we met with some of the first victims of Russian war crimes.
It was a sobering experience and one I will never forget.
And, as this war rages on, these war crimes have only continued.
Following the liberation of Kherson, which was under Russian occupation for 8 months, more horrors have been discovered. Russian soldiers had taken old detention centers and converted them into torture chambers.
Those subject to these torture chambers included journalists, civil servants, teachers, and random citizens. They were subjected to electric shock torture, ferocious beatings, suffocation, and waterboarding.
They even discovered a “children’s cell,” specifically used to torture and abuse children.
These were not the actions of some rogue soldiers, but rather a planned and financed operation of terror sanctioned at the highest levels of the Kremlin.
The investigators who collected this evidence, said this was, quote:
“A calculated plan to terrorize, subjugate and eliminate Ukrainian resistance and destroy Ukrainian identity.”
This is the reality for every single innocent Ukrainian who remains trapped behind enemy lines and under Russian occupation.
Recently, we have learned of Russian soldiers beheading Ukrainian POWs.
Just this past Monday, a story broke outlining how Wagner commanders confessed to extensive war crimes, including the execution of 20 children, along with blowing up a pit of more than 50 wounded captives.
They admitted they were given orders to “shoot without words,” at anyone over the age of 15.
Russian soldiers and Wagner group mercenaries, in horrific detail I’ve heard and it’s been reported, carry Viagra with them to forcibly rape women and children.
I personally heard an account from a mother who saw her 5-year-old daughter ganged raped to death by 10 Wagner mercenaries, who then threw her dead body on the side of the road.
This is happening right now. They’re monsters. And they need to be brought to justice.
One would think the horror of such acts would have been discarded “into the ash heap of history,” as Ronald Reagan once said.
Sadly, the depravity of Russia’s invading forces knows no bounds.
We have seen the mass deportation and relocation of Ukrainian children. Tens of thousands of children have been kidnapped, handed over to Russian families and forced into pro-Russian reeducation systems.
These are more than war crimes. These are more than crimes against humanity. What we are witnessing in Ukraine is genocide.
By definition, genocide is, “the intention to destroy a people in whole or in part, including by forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
Putin and Kremlin senior officials have made clear that their intent is to systematically wipe out Ukraine’s existence.
The free world cannot sit idly by and allow this to happen. It is beyond time that this Administration along with our allies provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to win.
We need to do more than just give Ukraine enough for survival. We urgently must give them longer range systems, such as ATACMS, for victory.
These are critical to not only destroy the Iranian drones in Crimea that have been devastating to Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, but also to enable Ukraine to push forward with its imminent counter-offensive to recapture its territory and liberate its people from the daily threat of Russian terror.
History will judge this moment and ask what we did to stop this.
No country can remain neutral in the face of such evil.
Genocide must not be tolerated by the free world.
Just as we held perpetrators of genocide to account in the Nuremburg trials following WWII, we must hold Putin and his soldiers accountable for the Russian horrors inflicted on Ukraine.
History will judge us by what we do here and now.