Biden Calls Putin a War Criminal for the First Time

Kremlin calls remark 'unforgivable rhetoric'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2022 4:25 PM CDT
Biden: I Think Putin Is a War Criminal
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the government via teleconference in Moscow, on March 10, 2022.   (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

President Biden publicly called his Russian counterpart a war criminal for the first time Wednesday. Biden, when asked by a reporter at a White House event if he considered Vladimir Putin a war criminal, initially responded "No," CNN reports. Video from C-SPAN shows that he returned to the same group of reporters soon afterward to clarify what he had been asked. "Oh, I think he is a war criminal," Biden told them. White House press secretary Jen Psaki later said the president was speaking from his heart about Putin's "barbaric actions," but the legal process to formally determine whether the Russian leader is guilty of war crimes is underway at the State Department.

Earlier Wednesday, Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly said Biden should "absolutely" call Putin a war criminal, CNBC reports. Kelly cited Russia's attacks on hospitals in Ukraine and its "direct fire on civilians." During his address to Congress Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky showed lawmakers a video that included graphic images of children killed or wounded by Russian strikes, and images of civilians being buried in mass graves. The BBC reports that according to Russia's TASS news agency, the Kremlin called Biden's remark "unacceptable and unforgivable rhetoric." (Biden has promised "unprecedented" military assistance for Ukraine to resist the Russian invasion.)

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