President Biden said Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin should face trial for war crimes after horrifying images emerged over the weekend of the aftermath of civilian massacres carried out by Kremlin forces in Ukraine.
“You may remember I got criticized for calling Putin a war criminal,” Biden told reporters as he arrived back in Washington after spending the weekend in Delaware. “Well, the truth of the matter, you saw what happened in Bucha. This warrants — he is a war criminal.”
“But we have to gather the information, 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 — we can actually have a war crimes trial,” the president continued.
“This guy is brutal and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous, and everyone’s seen it,” added Biden, who went on to say that his administration will continue to hit Russia with additional economic sanctions.
“I think of it as a war crime,” the president repeated when pressed about the ghastly images of mass graves in the Kyiv suburb, adding that Putin “should be held accountable.”
Hours earlier, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield announced a push to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council over the horrendous attacks.
“In close coordination with Ukraine, European countries and other partners at the UN, we are going to seek Russia’s suspension from the UN Human Rights Council,” Thomas-Greenfield told reporters in Bucharest, emphasizing Washington’s belief that Russian troops have committed war crimes.
The envoy praised the 140 UN member states that have already voted to condemn Russia over its brutal invasion of Ukraine, saying it was time for the US to step up its actions as well.
“My message to those 140 countries who have courageously stood together is: The images out of Bucha and devastation across Ukraine require us to now match our words with action,” she said.
On Saturday, Bucha Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk claimed nearly 300 people were buried in a mass grave in the city. A day later, satellite images of executed civilians — including children and raped women — emerged.
“Indeed, this is genocide,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CBS News’ “Face the Nation.” “The elimination of the whole nation, of the people.”
“We are the citizens of Ukraine. We have more than a hundred nationalities. This is about destruction and extermination of all these nationalities,” he continued.
“We don’t want to be subdued to the policy of the Russian Federation. This is the reason we are being destroyed and exterminated. And this is happening in the Europe of the 21st century. So this is the torture of the whole nation.”
The Kremlin has denied the accusations, claiming the images were “staged” and that “not a single civilian” was harmed in the city, according to the New York Times.
Thomas-Greenfield is expected to bring a motion to suspend Russia in the General Assembly later in the week, according to Reuters.
“Russia’s participation on the Human Rights Council is a farce,” she said Monday. “And it is wrong, which is why we believe it is time the UN General Assembly vote to remove them.”
Two-thirds of the 193-member assembly must vote to suspend Russia for Thomas-Greenfield’s motion to be successful. Moscow’s current term on the council expires next year.
Last month, the International Criminal Court opened an investigation into allegations of war crimes against Russia, including crimes against humanity as well as allegations of genocide committed during the invasion of Ukraine.
Neither Russia nor the US are members of the ICC.