An American citizen was among those killed in Russia’s ongoing attacks on civilians in Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a press conference Thursday where he agreed with President Joe Biden’s assessment that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “war criminal.”
“Yesterday, President Biden said that in his opinion, war crimes have been committed in Ukraine. Personally, I agree,” Blinken said while giving an update on the conflict that has killed Ukrainian citizens and members of the media.
“Intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime. After all the destruction in the past three weeks I find it difficult to conclude that the Russians are doing otherwise,” Blinken added.
Blinken cited recent attacks by Russian troops on Ukrainian hospitals, schools, apartment buildings, a boarding school for visually impaired kids, civilians lined up for bread, and a theater where hundreds had taken shelter.
“The word ‘children’ had been written in Russian in giant white letters on the pavement outside the building so that you could know from the air that there were children outside,” he said of the theater attack in the southern port city of Mariupol.
Blinken also cited the deaths of Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski and filmmaker and journalist Brent Renaud, who was on assignment for Time magazine. Ukrainian journalist Oleksandra Kuvshynova, who was working as a freelancer for Fox News, was also killed in the attack that killed Zakrzewski and wounded Fox News correspondent Benjamin Hall.
Blinken confirmed that a U.S. citizen is also among the recent dead, but said he had no further details.
The victim has been identified by local U.S. media and family as James Whitney Hill. Hill had extensively posted on Facebook about his efforts to survive the war while caring for a sick loved one in the city of Chernihiv, in northern Ukraine. His last post was on Tuesday.
A family friend told Idaho station Local 8 News that Hill had traveled to Chernihiv in December for life-extending multiple sclerosis treatment for his partner, Irina, who’s a Ukrainian citizen. A woman identifying herself as Hill’s sister posted on Facebook that he was gunned down by Russian military snipers in Chernihiv while waiting in line for bread.
Police in Chernihiv had posted on Facebook Thursday that U.S. citizens were among a group of unarmed civilians who were killed or wounded by Russian troops in a shelling.