In his latest escalation in rhetoric toward Vladimir Putin, President Joe Biden called for the Russian leader to be prosecuted for war crimes Monday after graphic accounts emerged of Russian forces murdering civilians in the city of Bucha.
“This guy is brutal,” Biden said, according to the BBC.
The government of Ukraine has claimed that more than 400 civilians have been found dead in the area near Kyiv. In the city of Bucha, disturbing images of bodies littering the streets have led to accusations of war crimes against Russia.
While the details of how the people died are unclear, some had their hands tied behind their backs. The Kremlin claims the scenes were staged, but satellite images show the bodies have been there since Russia occupied the city. Residents in Bucha have also said that civilians were murdered by Russians.
Biden, who has repeatedly called Putin a war criminal, distanced himself from Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky and his characterization of the alleged massacre in Bucha as a genocide, saying, “No, I think it is a war crime.”
But the president didn’t withhold his view on what he thinks should happen to Putin, saying the Russian leader should stand trial for the “outrageous” scenes in Bucha.
“We have to gather all the details so this can be an actual — have a war crimes trial,” Biden said. “This guy is brutal, and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous, and everyone’s seen it.”
It is not clear how Biden believes Putin can be prosecuted without regime change in Russia. Just days ago, Biden’s handlers were forced to clarify that the U.S. is not seeking Putin’s overthrow after Biden said the Russian leader “cannot remain in power.”
While Biden’s exact policy against Putin is hazy, he said Monday that he will continue to provide weapons to Ukraine and is weighing more sanctions.
Ukraine has also faced accusations of war crimes over the alleged mutilation of Russian prisoners of war.
Biden’s Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, echoed Biden in claiming the alleged crimes in Bucha are part of a deliberate Kremlin policy to terrorize civilians and not the “random act of a rogue unit.” The Pentagon says they cannot independently confirm Ukraine’s claims but have no reason to dispute them.
Zelensky called on the United Nations Tuesday to remove Russia from the Security Council, where Russia sits alongside the U.S., China, Britain, and France.