© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on the development of air transport and aircraft manufacturing via video link at his residence in Novo Ogalyvo Oblast, outside Moscow, Russia, March 31, 2022.Sputnik / Mikhail Klimenev / Krem
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden charged Russian President Vladimir Putin with war crimes on Monday and called for a trial, fueling a global outcry over the killing of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bukha, As more images emerged of their deaths.
“You saw what happened to Boucha,” Biden told reporters after arriving in Washington from Delaware, where he spent the weekend. “It justified him – he was a war criminal. »
The discovery of a mass grave and bound bodies shot at close range in Bucha, a town outside Kyiv, which Ukrainian forces recaptured from Russian troops, should prompt the US and Europe to impose additional sanctions on Moscow.
“We have to gather information. We have to keep supplying Ukraine with the weapons it needs to keep fighting. We need to know all the details so this can be a true war crimes trial,” Biden said.
The Kremlin categorically denies any allegations related to the killing of civilians, including in Boucha, saying the graves and bodies were staged by Ukraine to tarnish Russia.
Biden’s national security adviser Jack Sullivan told reporters the U.S. would seek information from four sources to build a war crimes case: the U.S. and its allies, including information; Ukraine’s field observations; international organizations, including the United Nations; and interviews from independent media around the world .
The U.S. will file a case at the International Criminal Court or elsewhere, he said. The United States is not a party to the ICC.
Sullivan said Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, which means Moscow can block any accountability for war crimes in the body.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky called the killing “genocide” in a speech in Butcha on Monday, when reporters entered the city and documented its destruction.
Defense officials said the Pentagon could not independently confirm the atrocities.
Sullivan said the United States has not seen evidence that the killings have risen to genocide levels.
This is not the first time Biden has called Putin a war criminal since the February 24 invasion of Ukraine in what Moscow called a “special operation.” The Kremlin said the designation hurt U.S.-Russian relations.
“The international community must also take concrete action to hold Putin and his cronies accountable for their war crimes,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Republican leader Jim Risch said in a statement, citing what he called “horrific” images.
“Putin must be held accountable for this tragic and brutal attack on innocent civilians,” said Democrat Bob Menendez, chairman of the committee. »
Biden’s UN envoy announced that Washington will also seek a moratorium on Russia’s membership of the UN Human Rights Council.