While returning to the White House on Monday, President Joe Biden doubled down on calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” and went even further by calling for Putin to face a war crimes trial.
“He is a war criminal,” Biden told reporters, referring to Russia’s massacre in recent days of more than 400 Ukrainian civilians in the Kyiv area, including Bucha, just northwest of the city.
“We have to get all the details so that we can have a war crimes trial,” Biden added. “This guy is brutal and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous.”
When asked if Biden would describe the slaughter of civilians as “genocide,” Biden answered, “No, I think it is a war crime.”
Biden confirmed he is exploring more sanctions to impose on Russia.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Bucha on Sunday where many bodies of civilians were found strewn across roadways. Zelenskyy declared the massacre “genocide” and called for harsher sanctions against Russia in response.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted on Monday that the EU is prepared to “send Joint Investigation Teams to document war crimes in coordination with the Ukrainian Prosecutor General.”
A day earlier, she condemned Russia’s “unspeakable horrors” in Ukraine and declared “perpetrators of war crimes will be held accountable.”
Ukrainian prosecutor-general Iryna Venediktova said on Sunday the Ukrainian side had found the bodies of 410 civilians in towns in the Kyiv area that Ukraine had recently retaken from Russian forces, the Associated Press reported.
Associated Press reporters saw the bodies of 21 civilians left in one of the Kyiv-area towns, Bucha. Two had their hands tied behind their backs and another had their legs tied. In the western Kyiv-area town of Motyzhyn, the publication reported the bodies of four people found in a pit, with signs they were shot at close range. Those killed included the town’s mayor, her son and her husband, who had been bound and blindfolded.
Ukraine’s Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security under the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy released video showing civilian bodies strewn across Bucha and Irpin.
In a Sunday interview on CNN, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “We believe that Russian forces have committed war crimes and we’ve been working to document that, to provide the information that we have to the relevant institutions and organizations that will put all of this together, and there needs to be accountability for it.”
Russia denied responsibility for the civilian killings. On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the civilian killings in Bucha were staged after Russian troops left the area, in accordance with Russia’s alleged plan to reduce military action around Kyiv, which they insisted was to enhance trust with Ukraine. U.S. officials have warned that Russia’s movement is not a withdrawal, but simply a “repositioning” before a new attack on Kyiv.