It was a notable shift for the president and the first time he has labeled his Russian counterpart’s actions in Ukraine in such a way.
President Joe Biden on Wednesday called Vladimir Putin a “war criminal.”
It was a notable shift for Biden and the first time he has labeled his Russian counterpart’s actions in Ukraine in such a way. The president, who has skirted questions on whether Russia has committed war crimes in Ukraine and often refers to ongoing investigations, didn’t mince his words on Wednesday.
“I think he is a war criminal,” Biden told reporters.
The comment followed Biden’s announcement earlier on Wednesday that the U.S. would send an additional $800 million in military aid to Ukraine. His commitment to more aid, which brings the total to $1 billion allocated to the country this week, came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered an emotional address to Congress. Zelenskyy pleaded with the U.S. and its NATO allies to do more to help his country, whether by enforcing a no-fly zone over Ukraine or sending jets to aid in its war against Russia.
Biden, during Wednesday’s speech, addressed the nature of the “difficult battle” Ukrainians have faced in the three weeks since Russia launched its assault. The Ukrainian death toll has continued to climb as Russian bombing expands toward the country’s west. More than 700 civilians have been killed the past few weeks, according to the United Nations, and dozens of children have been confirmed dead as of March 15, though these numbers are difficult to track and are likely considerably higher.