Biden calls for war crimes trial for 'brutal' Putin and vows to step up US sanctions

4 April 2022, 17:35

Biden called out Putin for the devastation in Bucha
Biden called out Putin for the devastation in Bucha. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

US President Joe Biden has called for a war crimes trial against Russian President Vladimir Putin, and said he is seeking more sanctions after the reported atrocities in Ukraine.

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Mr Biden was asked by journalists about the images coming out of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv.

"You may remember I got criticised for calling Putin a war criminal," he said.

"Well, the truth of the matter, you saw what happened in Bucha... he is a war criminal.

"We have to gather the information... we have to continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to continue to fight, and we have to get all the detail so this can have a war crimes trial."

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He added: "This guy is brutal.

"What's happened in Bucha is outrageous and everyone has seen it... he should be held accountable."

When he was asked about the US response, the President confirmed he was seeking more sanctions.

Mr Biden's comments to reporters came after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Bucha, one of the towns surrounding the capital Kyiv where Ukrainian officials say the bodies of civilians have been found.

Mr Zelenskyy called the Russian actions "genocide" and called for the West to apply tougher sanctions against Russia.

Mr Biden, however, stopped short of calling the actions genocide.

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The bodies of 410 civilians have been removed from Kyiv-area towns recently retaken from Russian forces, Ukraine's prosecutor-general Iryna Venediktova said.

Associated Press journalists saw the bodies of at least 21 people in various spots around Bucha, northwest of Kyiv.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet on Monday the European Union "is ready" to send investigators to Ukraine to help the local prosecutor general "document war crimes".

Mr Biden noted that he faced pushback last month when he described Mr Putin as a war criminal after hospitals and maternity wards in Ukraine were bombed.

But in his remarks on Monday, Mr Biden made it clear that the label still applies.

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Investigations into Mr Putin's actions started before the new allegations of atrocities outside Kyiv.

The US and more than 40 other countries are working together to investigate possible violations and abuses after the passage of a resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council to establish a commission of inquiry.

There is another probe by the International Criminal Court, an independent body based in the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, Mr Biden's chief envoy to the United Nations (UN), ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the US plans to seek a suspension of Russia from its seat on the UN's top human rights body.

That would require a decision by the UN General Assembly.

Russia and the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council - Britain, China, France and the US - all currently have seats on the 47-member-state rights council, which is based in Geneva.

The US rejoined the council this year.