Ukrainian president receives standing ovation as he urges US to send more military aid and impose further sanctions
Joe Biden has denounced Vladimir Putin as a war criminal, delivering his sharpest rebuke yet of the Russian leader just hours after the Ukrainian president pleaded with Congress to provide more aid to his country.
“I think he is a war criminal,” Biden said of Putin on Wednesday.
The president’s comment marked a distinct rhetorical shift for the White House, which had deflected previous questions about whether Putin should be considered a war criminal for the Russian military’s attacks on Ukrainian civilians.
“There is a process, and we have stood up a process internally – an internal team – to assess and look at and evaluate evidence of what we’re seeing happen on the ground,” the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said earlier this month.
The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Biden’s comments were “unacceptable and unforgivable rhetoric”, according to Russia’s state-owned Tass news agency.
Biden’s comments came hours after the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, delivered an impassioned virtual address to the US Congress. From the besieged capital of Ukraine, Zelenskiy pleaded with lawmakers to do more to protect his nation against the brutal Russian invasion, in an emotional appeal that invoked the painful memories of Pearl Harbor and the September 11 terrorists attacks and echoed Martin Luther King’s call for a more peaceful future.
The remarks to members of both chambers of Congress came on day 21 of the battle for Ukraine’s survival that Zelenskiy cast as the frontline of a global fight to protect democratic values.