He's Not Wrong: Biden Calls Putin a 'War Criminal,' Aide Says He Was 'Speaking from the Heart'

President Joe Biden accused Russia’s President Vladimir Putin of committing war crimes amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

via People:

“I think he is a war criminal,” Biden said Wednesday during a brief exchange with a reporter at the White House, marking the first time his administration has so explicitly defined the actions of Russian forces in their attacks on Ukraine, where hundreds of civilians have been killed or injured, including children, according to admittedly low counts by officials there.

“The president’s remarks speak for themselves,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said after Biden spoke at an event about preventing violence against women.

The president, Psaki said, was “speaking from the heart” and “responding to what he has seen on television.”

“We have all seen barbaric acts, horrific acts, by a foreign dictator in a country that is threatening and taking the lives of civilians,” she said.

Biden’s comment comes as U.S. politicians increasingly unite in condemnation of the Russian forces and urge greater response, even as the White House says some of the possible moves — such as air combat with Russia to protect Ukrainians from bombs — risk widening the war.

“War criminal” is not the first denunciation Biden has made of Putin. He previously described the Russian autocrat as a “killer” who does “not have a soul.” (According to The Washington Post, Putin responded to the “killer” label somewhat mockingly, invoking an expression that translates to “I know you are, but what am I?”)

Some of the alleged atrocities committed by Russian forces in Ukraine were on display for U.S. lawmakers Wednesday during a virtual address at the Capitol by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Russia has repeatedly denied targeting civilian sites. But Zelenskyy showed a video that spliced together images of pre-war Ukraine with footage of the country now — large, colorful buildings reduced to rubble and images of smiling children replaced by tears, blood and bombs as the words “this is a murder” were displayed across the screen.

Ukrainian schools, medical centers and residential buildings have reportedly been hit by Russian strikes during the three-week-old war.

Biden had said it’s “clear” Russia is targeting civilians in its brutal attacks but previously stopped short of saying war crimes had been committed.

“We are following it very closely,” Biden said earlier this month, according to CNN. “It’s too early to say that.”

Similarly, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations gave a stark warning to Russian forces during an emergency session of the General Assembly in early March.

“Your leaders are lying to you. Do not commit war crimes,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield said. “Do everything you can to put down your weapons and leave Ukraine.”

Following Zelenskyy’s address Wednesday to the Congress, Biden announced an additional $800 million in aid to help Ukraine fight Russian invaders.
“We need you right now,” Zelenskyy said, appearing via video feed in a green military-style shirt, which has become a trademark of his since the war started Feb. 24. “Remember Pearl Harbor, [the] terrible morning of December 1941 when your sky was black from the planes attacking you. Just remember. Remember Sept. 11 — a terrible day in 2001 when people tried to turn your cities … into battlefields. When innocent people were attacked.”

He continued: “Every night for three weeks now … Russia has turned the Ukrainian sky into a source of death for thousands of people.”

A week into the war, a prosecutor with the International Criminal Court said he planned to open an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

“I have decided to proceed with opening an investigation into the Situation in Ukraine, as rapidly as possible,” Karim Khan said in a statement March 1. “I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to believe that both alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Ukraine.”

Russian attacks continue three weeks after their forces launched a large-scale invasion on Feb. 24 — the first major land conflict in Europe in decades.

Details of the fighting change by the day, but hundreds of civilians have already been reported dead or wounded, including children. More than 3 million Ukrainians have also fled, the United Nations says.

“You don’t know where to go, where to run, who you have to call. This is just panic,” Liliya Marynchak, a 45-year-old teacher in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, told PEOPLE of the moment her city was bombed — one of numerous accounts of bombardment by the Russians.

The invasion, ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, has drawn condemnation around the world and increasingly severe economic sanctions against Russia.

With NATO forces massing in the region around Ukraine, various countries have also pledged aid or military support to the resistance. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for peace talks — so far unsuccessful — while urging his country to fight back.

Putin insists Ukraine has historic ties to Russia and he is acting in the best security interests of his country. Zelenskyy vowed not to bend.

“Nobody is going to break us, we’re strong, we’re Ukrainians,” he told the European Union in a speech in the early days of the fighting, adding, “Life will win over death. And light will win over darkness.” 

At some point, Putin needs to be taken down for all of his bullsh*t.

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