A top Russian official threatens the U.S. with the ‘wrath of God’ over war crime investigations.

Source: www.nytimes.com : 2022-07-07 02:23:41 : Alex Traub

One of Russia’s leading political figures on Wednesday rattled his country’s nuclear capabilities and threatened the United States with the “wrath of God” for pursuing war crimes investigations against Russia.

In a message posted to Telegram, the official, Dmitri Medvedev, said: “The idea of punishing a country that has one of the largest nuclear potentials is absurd. And potentially poses a threat to the existence of humanity.”

He also called the United States hypocritical for accusing Russia of war crimes, denouncing “all American history” as “a bloody war of annihilation.” He listed the subjugation of Native Americans and the dropping of nuclear bombs on Japan as examples.

“Who has answered for this crime?” Mr. Medvedev asked about the war in Vietnam. “What tribunal condemned the sea of blood spilled by the U.S. there and elsewhere?”

Russia has previously rejected evidence of atrocities committed by its troops in Ukraine, notably in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha. President Vladimir V. Putin, to whom Mr. Medvedev is closely allied, has blamed Russia’s invasion on provocations by the United States, NATO and “Nazis” in Ukraine.

Mr. Medvedev did not refer to any specific recent event as prompting his message. The prospect of trying Russian officials as war criminals has been raised by a number of countries and international organizations.

In March, President Biden and his secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, both accused Mr. Putin of committing war crimes. Last month, during a visit to Ukraine, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced the formation of a “war crimes accountability team” focused on Ukraine.

“There is no hiding place for war criminals,” Mr. Garland said.

In May, the prosector of the International Criminal Court, Karim A.A. Khan, deployed what he described as the largest team of investigators and forensic experts in the history of his office. The European Union pledged millions of dollars to support the effort last month, but Russia, like the United States, is not a member of the court.

Russian officials and the leaders of liberal democracies, particularly the United States, have used increasingly vehement language to describe opposing worldviews during the war in Ukraine.

Mr. Medvedev embodies that condemnatory style. During his tenure as president of Russia from 2008 to 2012 — when Mr. Putin, blocked from the role by term limits, served as prime minister — Mr. Medvedev met with human rights groups and oppositional journalists, establishing a reputation for holding liberal sympathies, even if hesitantly or only rhetorically.

Now, as vice chairman of Russia’s Security Council, he promotes fiery nationalism on his Telegram channel. The dehumanizing rhetoric of his latest message included a reference to Americans as “rotten dogs of war.”

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