(Washington, D.C.) — President Joe Biden on Monday called for a war crimes trial against Russia President Vladimir Putin and said he’d seek more sanctions after reported atrocities in Ukraine.
“You saw what happened in Bucha,” Biden said. He added that Putin “is a war criminal.”
Biden’s comments to reporters came after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Bucha, one of the towns surrounding Kyiv where Ukrainian officials say the bodies of civilians have been found. Zelenskyy called the Russian actions “genocide” and called for the West to apply tougher sanctions against Russia.
Biden however did not call the acts genocide.
The bodies of 410 civilians have been removed from Kyiv-area towns that were recently retaken from Russian forces, Ukraine’s prosecutor-general, Iryna Venediktova, said. Associated Press journalists witnessed the remains of 21 individuals in different spots throughout Bucha, north of the capital.
“We have to continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to continue the fight. And we have to gather all the detail so this can be an actual — have a war crimes trial,” Biden said.
Biden lashed out at Putin as “brutal.”
“What’s happening in Bucha is outrageous and everyone sees it,” Biden added.
White House officials claimed that talks to increase sanctions on Russia have intensified following reports about alleged atrocities. Biden stated Monday that he will continue adding sanctions, but didn’t specify which sectors the U.S. might target next.
Since Russia had already imposed a torrent of sanctions during the initial weeks of war, the administration has been focusing more on closing any loopholes Russia may use to avoid the sanctions.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, tweeted Monday that he European Union will send investigators to Ukraine to help the local prosecutor general “document war crimes.”
A Russian law enforcement agency says it has launched its own investigation into allegations that Ukrainian civilians were massacred in suburbs of Kyiv that were held by Russian troops, focusing on what it calls “false information” about Russian forces.
The Investigative Committee claims Ukrainian authorities made the allegations “with the aim of discrediting Russian troops” and that those involved should be investigated over possible breaches of a new Russian law banning what the government deems to be false information about its forces.
Biden pointed out that Putin was a war criminal when he called him a warcriminal for the ongoing onslaught against Ukraine. After hospitals and maternity units were bombed, he received pushback. Biden stated that this label is still in effect Monday.
“This guy is brutal and what’s happening to Bucha is outrageous, and everyone’s seen it,” Biden said.
Investigations into Putin’s actions had begun before the new allegations of atrocities outside Kyiv.
After a UN Human Rights Council resolution to create a commission to investigate, the United States and 40 countries have joined forces to examine possible abuses and violations. Another probe is being conducted by the International Criminal Court. This independent organization is based in the Netherlands.
Meanwhile, Biden’s chief envoy to the United Nations, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, announced Monday that the U.S. plans to seek a suspension of Russia from its seat on the U.N.’s top human rights body in the wake of more indications Russian forces may have committed war crimes in Ukraine. This would need to be decided by the U.N. General Assembly.
Russia and the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council – Britain, China, France and the United States – all currently have seats on the 47-member-state rights council, which is based in Geneva. This year, the United States joined the council.
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