US President Joe Biden has called his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” over the conflict in Ukraine, with the Kremlin responding that such US remarks are “unacceptable and unforgivable”.
At a White House event on Wednesday, one of the reporters asked Biden if he considered the Russian president a war criminal. Initially, Biden answered “no,” but then asked the reporter to clarify the matter and said, “Oh, I think he’s a war criminal.”
Commenting on the US leader’s remarks, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS that Moscow considers “unacceptable and unforgivable such rhetoric from the head of state, whose bombs have killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world”.
While the United States has always condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Biden’s remarks on Wednesday apparently mark the first time the US leader has used a term as strong as a “war criminal” to describe the actions. of Putin. Previously, the White House avoided using this definition, explaining that it was a specific legal term.
In a speech on Wednesday, Biden accused the Russian military of bombing hospitals and apartment buildings – which Moscow denies.
The president’s remarks came a day after the US Senate backed a resolution declaring Putin a war criminal. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday that Democrats and Republicans have united “to say that Vladimir Putin cannot escape responsibility for the atrocities committed against the Ukrainian people.”
Putin has always denied accusations of indiscriminate shelling of Ukrainian cities by Russian forces, stressing that the army “works with modern high-precision weapons”, hitting only military targets.
Moscow attacked Ukraine in late February, after a seven-year stalemate over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics with capitals in Donetsk and Lugansk. The protocols negotiated by Germany and France were designed to regularize the status of these regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. kyiv insists the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied claims it planned to retake the two republics by force.
The West imposed severe sanctions on Russia for the offensive against Ukraine, including against Putin personally. Moscow responded with counter-sanctions that targeted the US president.