In an intense moment during Florida Senator Marco Rubio‘s questioning of Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, Rubio asked fomer ExxonMobile CEO Rex Tillerson if he thought Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “war criminal.”
“I would not use that term,” Tillerson replied.
Rubio then launched into a powerful description of Putin’s atrocities. Tillerson, who has a documented longstanding relationship with Putin, sat looking extremely uncomfortable as Rubio spoke.
“In Aleppo, Mr. Putin has directed his military to conduct a devastating campaign,” Rubio started out. “He’s targeted schools, markets — not just assisted the Syrians in doing it — his military has targeted schools, and markets, and other civilian infrastructure. It’s resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians.”
Rubio then detailed Putin’s brutal war in the Republic of Chechnya.
“[The Russian military] used SCUD missiles to hit hospitals, the city’s main outdoor market packed with shoppers — 137 people died instantly. They used thermobaric and fuel-air explosive bombs; these are the bombs that ignite and they burn the air breathed in by people who are hiding in basements. They used cluster munitions — he used battlefield weapons against civilians, and when it was all said and done, an estimated 300,000 civilians were killed and the city was completely destroyed.”
Rubio noted the boost in Putin’s poll numbers after the Chechnya campaign.
“So, based on all this information and what’s publicly in the record about what’s happened in Aleppo and the Russian military, you are still not prepared to say that Vladimir Putin and his military have violated the rules of war, and have conducted war crimes in Aleppo?”
“Those are very, very serious charges to make and I would want to have much more information before reaching a conclusion,” Tillerson replied. “I understand that there is a body of record in the public domain—I’m sure there is a body of record in the classified domain. And I think that in order to deal with a serious question like this, I would want to be fully informed before advising the president.”
“It should not be hard to say that Vladimir Putin’s military has conducted war crimes in Aleppo…” Rubio shot back, reiterating that the accounts he relayed were well-documented. “I find it discouraging your inability to cite that, which I think is globally accepted.”
Watch the video below:
When asked during hearing if Vladimir Putin is a “war criminal,” Rex Tillerson says, “I would not use that term.” https://t.co/81SJT0GQ4m
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 11, 2017
Featured image via screen grab