US President Joe Biden on Wednesday called his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin “a war criminal”, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues with devastating consequences for civilians.
“I think he (Putin) is a war criminal,” Biden told reporters at a White House event. He was responding to a question if Putin is a war criminal.
In response to another question, he ruled out calling Putin. “No,” he said.
Soon thereafter, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the president’s words speak for themselves.
“I think the President’s remarks speak for themselves. He was speaking from his heart and speaking from what we’ve seen on television, which are barbaric actions by a brutal dictator through his invasion of a foreign country,” she said.
Earlier in the day, Biden announced another USD800 million security assistance to Ukraine, taking the total to USD1 billion in less than a week.
“Putin is inflicting appalling, appalling devastation and horror on Ukraine, bombing apartment buildings, maternity wards, hospitals. I mean, it’s God awful. I was speaking about this with our commander behind me here, General Milley. I mean, it’s just is amazing. Yesterday, we saw reports that Russian forces were holding hundreds of doctors and patients hostage in the largest hospital in Mariupol,” he said.
“These are atrocities. They’re an outrage to the world, and the world is united in our support for Ukraine and our determination to make Putin pay a very heavy price. America is leading this effort, together with our allies and partners, providing enormous levels of security and humanitarian assistance that we’re adding to today, and we’re going to continue to do more in the days and weeks ahead,” Biden said.
The United States, its allies and partners, he said, are crippling Putin’s economy with punishing sanctions.
“That’s going to only grow more painful over time with the entire NATO and EU behind us, and many other countries. What’s at stake here are the principles that the United States and the United Nations and (nations) across the world stand for. It’s about freedom,” he said.
“It’s about the right of people to determine their own future. It’s about making sure Ukraine will never be a victory for Putin, no matter what advances he makes on the battlefield. The American people are answering President Zelenskyy’s call for more help, more weapons for Ukraine to defend itself, more tools to fight Russian aggression, and that’s what we’re doing,” he said.
The new security package to Ukraine includes 800 anti-aircraft systems to make sure the Ukrainian military can continue to stop the planes and helicopters that have been attacking their people and to defend their Ukrainian airspace, he said.
“At the request of President Zelenskyy, we have identified and are helping Ukraine acquire additional longer range anti-aircraft systems and the munitions for those systems. Our new assistance package also includes 9,000 anti-armor systems. These are portable high accuracy shoulder mounted missiles that the Ukrainian forces have been using with great effect to destroy invading tanks and armored vehicles,” he said.
It will include 7,000 small arms, machine guns, shotguns, grenade launchers, to equip the Ukrainians, including the brave women and men who are defending their cities as civilians and around the countryside as well, he added. The security assistance also includes drones.
“We are not doing this alone. Our allies and partners have stepped up to provide significant shipments of security assistance and will continue to help facilitate these deliveries as well,” he said.