Washington (AFP) – President Joe Biden on Monday called for a war crimes trial against Russian President Vladimir Putin and said he would seek more sanctions after reported atrocities in Ukraine.
“You saw what happened in Bucha,” Biden said. He added that Putin was a “war criminal.”
Biden’s statements to reporters came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Bocha, One of the towns around Kiev where Ukrainian officials say the bodies of civilians have been found. Zelensky called Russia’s actions “genocide” and called on the West to tighten sanctions against Russia.
“We don’t believe this is just a random incident, or a rogue act by a particular individual,” US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said of the images of handcuffed civilians. He noted that the United States has warned that Russia will seek to imprison or kill dissidents or others it considers threats for its attempt to occupy Ukraine. “We believe that was part of the plan,” he added.
But Biden and US officials stopped short of calling these actions genocide.
“We have seen atrocities, we have witnessed war crimes, and we have not yet seen a level of systematic deprivation of the lives of the Ukrainian people that rises to the level of genocide,” Sullivan said.
The Ukrainian Prosecutor General, Irina Venediktova, said that the bodies of 410 civilians were removed from towns in the Kyiv region that were recently recovered from Russian forces. Associated Press reporters saw the bodies of at least 21 people in various locations around the city of Bucha, northwest of the capital.
“We have to keep providing Ukraine with the weapons it needs to keep fighting. And we have to get all the details together so that this can be a real trial — we have a war crimes trial,” Biden said.
Biden criticized Putin as “brutal”.
Biden added: “What is happening in Bucha is outrageous, and everyone is seeing it.”
On Monday, Sullivan said Russia is shifting its focus in its war in Ukraine to the east and south of the country, after facing a stronger-than-expected defense from the Ukrainians with the support of Western allies.
“The Russians now realize that the West will not be broken” in its support of the Ukrainian government, Sullivan said. But he warned that Russia was stepping up its offensive in other parts of the country after withdrawing many troops from the vicinity of the capital, Kyiv.
White House officials said talks about tightening new sanctions on Russia intensified after reports of alleged atrocities emerged. Biden said on Monday he would continue adding sanctions but did not detail what sectors the United States might target next. Sullivan said additional sanctions will be issued this week.
After unveiling a series of sanctions in the early weeks of the war, administration officials in recent days have focused more on filling loopholes that Russia might try to use to avoid sanctions.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted on Monday that the European Union would send investigators to Ukraine to help the local prosecutor “documenting war crimes.”
A Russian law enforcement agency said it has opened its own investigation into allegations of killings of Ukrainian civilians in the suburbs of Kyiv who were held by Russian forces, focusing on what it calls “false information” about Russian forces.
The Investigative Committee alleges that the Ukrainian authorities made the allegations “with the aim of discrediting Russian forces” and that those involved should be investigated for possible violations of a new Russian law that prohibits what the government considers to be false information about its forces.
Biden noted that he faced opposition last month when he called Putin a war criminal About the attack that began in Ukraine after the bombing of hospitals and maternity wards. In his remarks on Monday, Biden made it clear that the designation still applies.
“This guy is brutal and what’s happening to Bucha is outrageous,” Biden said.
The investigations into Putin’s actions had begun before the new allegations of atrocities outside Kyiv.
The United States and more than 40 other countries are working together to investigate potential violations and abuses, following a decision by the United Nations Human Rights Council to set up a commission of inquiry. Another investigation was conducted by the International Criminal Court, an independent body based in the Netherlands. The US Senate unanimously approved a resolution Last month, it sought investigations into Putin and elements of his government for war crimes related to the invasion of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Biden’s chief envoy to the United Nations, Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield, announced Monday that the United States plans to seek to suspend Russia from its seat at the United Nations’ highest human rights body following more indications that Russian forces may be committing a war. . Crimes in Ukraine. This will require a resolution from the United Nations General Assembly.
Russia and the other four permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — Britain, China, France and the United States — hold seats on the 47-nation, Geneva-based rights council. The United States returned to the council this year.
Thomas Greenfield said, “My message to those 140 nations who stood together with little courage: the images of Busha and the devastation across Ukraine now require us to match our words with deeds.” “We cannot allow a member state to subvert every principle we hold dear to continue to be a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council.”
Lisa Mascaro, senior congressional correspondent for the Associated Press, contributed to this article.
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