Biden calls Putin a 'war criminal' after he accused West of trying to 'cancel' Russia

16 March 2022, 16:00 | Updated: 16 March 2022, 20:34

By Asher McShane

US President Joe Biden has called Vladimir Putin a "war criminal" in comments described by the Kremlin as an "unacceptable and unforgivable rhetoric".

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Biden's comments come after the shelling of a theatre in the port of Mariupol where it’s believed more than a thousand civilians may have been sheltering.

The US has announced it will send a billion dollars in weapons to Ukraine.

Putin earlier said that the West is trying to ‘cancel’ Russia with economic sanctions imposed after his invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking in a televised meeting from Moscow, the Russian President said that the country had been hit by a ‘blitzkrieg’ of economic sanctions - but that the measures had failed and Russia wasn’t about to run out of cash for its invasion.

Putin said the West's "economic blitzkrieg" against Moscow had failed and that Western countries have "geopolitical aims which don't include a strong independent Russia".

Putin accused the West of trying to 'cancel' Russia with economic sanctions, as Russian forces press on with attacks in Ukraine
Putin accused the West of trying to 'cancel' Russia with economic sanctions, as Russian forces press on with attacks in Ukraine. Picture: Alamy

His comments come as senior military officials in Nato say President Putin ha not achieved his military goals in Ukraine so far and "probably will not at the end of the day".

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, left, remarks during a joint press conference following talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, left, remarks during a joint press conference following talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right. Picture: Alamy

However, Putin said Russian forces still have the capacity to “do a lot of damage” on the ground - as further harrowing videos of unarmed and in some cases, surrendering civilians, emerged.

In his speech Putin accused the West of trying to “dismember” Russia, according to Reuters.

Read more: Massacred in the bread queue: Ten Ukrainians shot dead by Russian forces

Read more: Fourth Russian general killed in Ukraine as Putin's forces 'struggle with terrain'

He said that if Western nations think Russia will step back from their actions in Ukraine then they do not understand Russia.

He added that Russia’s financial resources are sufficient to continue their attacks on Ukraine.

"Our economy and business have all necessary resources to meet all the goals set, challenges should only mobilise us," he said. He also announced that he was going to “increase all social payments in the near future” to help struggling Russian people feeling the effects of the sanctions against the country.

Putin's comments come after the prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia returned to Central Europe after visiting Kyiv to show support for Ukraine.

Czech prime minister Petr Fiala called on as many countries as possible to equip Ukraine with large amounts of weapons quickly so the country can continue fighting off the Russian forces.

He said: "We have to realise that (the Ukrainians) also fight for our independence, for our freedom and we have to support them. They're not alone."

He and prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland and prime minister Janez Jansa of Slovenia met with President Volodymyr Zelensky during their trip to Kyiv on Tuesday, when sustained Russian shelling targeted the city and its suburbs.

They went ahead with the hours-long train journey despite concerns about risks to their security while traveling through a war zone.

Polish deputy prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski - the chief of the ruling conservative party and his country's most powerful politician - also made the trip.

The Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia are members of both the European Union and NATO. Although pronouncing their trip to be an EU mission, officials in Brussels cast it as something the three leaders undertook on their own.

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said it was good for Western allies to engage closely with Zelensky, but he did not expressly endorse the visit to Kyiv.

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