Joe Biden called for a war crimes trial for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Monday and said he will pursue additional penalties in response to reported atrocities in Ukraine.
Biden’s remarks to reporters came following a visit by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Bucha, one of the communities surrounding Kyiv where Ukrainian officials claim civilian remains have been discovered. Zelenskyy dubbed Russia’s actions “genocide” and urged the West to impose greater sanctions on the country.
“You witnessed what occurred in Bucha,” Biden stated. Putin, he continued, “is a war criminal.” Biden, though, refrained from using the term “genocide.”
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410 citizens’ remains have been evacuated from cities in the Kyiv region recently recaptured from Russian forces, Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, stated. At least 21 remains were discovered by Associated Press journalists in various locations around Bucha, northwest of the city.
“We must continue to supply Ukraine with the weaponry it requires to fight. And we need to collect all of the details so that this can be an actual — a war crimes prosecution,” Biden said.
Biden described Putin as “brutal.” “What is happening in Bucha is outrageous, and it is clearly visible to everyone,” Biden added.
Officials at the White House said discussions about imposing further sanctions on Russia increased following the publication of accounts of alleged crimes. Biden stated Monday that the US would continue to impose sanctions but did not specify which sectors would be targeted next.
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After unleashing a barrage of penalties in the early weeks of the war, administration officials have shifted their focus in recent days to addressing loopholes that Russia may attempt to use to circumvent sanctions.
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen tweeted Monday that the European Union will send investigators to Ukraine to assist the country’s prosecutor general in “documenting war crimes.”
Russian law enforcement officials claim they have opened their own inquiry into allegations that Ukrainian civilians were slaughtered in Russian-held neighborhoods of Kyiv, focusing on what they describe “false information” regarding Russian forces.
According to the Investigative Committee, Ukrainian authorities made the allegations “in order to discredit Russian troops,” and those responsible should be investigated for possible violations of a new Russian law prohibiting the dissemination of what the government considers to be false information about its forces.
Biden highlighted that he received backlash last month after referring to Putin as a war criminal for the expanding offensive in Ukraine following the bombing of hospitals and maternity wards. Biden made it abundantly apparent in his Monday speech that the label remained applicable.
“This person is vicious, and what is happening to Bucha is outrageous, and it has been witnessed by everyone,” Biden added.
Putin’s activities were being investigated prior to the recent charges of crimes outside Kyiv.
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The United States and more than 40 other countries are cooperating to examine suspected violations and abuses following the United Nations Human Rights Council’s adoption of a resolution establishing a commission of inquiry. Another investigation is being conducted by the International Criminal Court, a non-governmental organization based in the Netherlands.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Biden’s primary ambassador to the United Nations, revealed Monday that the US intends to seek Russia’s suspension from the United Nations’ top human rights council in the light of additional signs Russian forces committed war crimes in Ukraine. This would necessitate a resolution by the United Nations General Assembly.
Russia, along with the other four permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — the United Kingdom, China, France, and the United States – currently hold seats on the Geneva-based 47-member-state rights council. This year, the United States re-joined the council.
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