Russian President Vladimir Putin was met with intense Western condemnation on Monday, as President Joe Biden and his Western allies called for the Russian leader to stand trial for war crimes.
These alleged war crimes were discovered as Ukrainian forces worked to reclaim the areas around Kyiv from withdrawing Russian troops. The Los Angeles Times reported that Ukrainian forces found mass graves in the suburbs of Kyiv. Reportedly, these graves were filled with the corpses of civilians, and the suburban streets are also said to be littered with civilian corpses.
Many of the slaughtered civilians bore mark marks of torture and execution. Bodies were found with their hands tied behind them and seemingly fatal gunshot wounds at the base of their skulls.
“This guy is brutal,” Biden said. “What’s happening in Bucha is outrageous.”
The Ukrainian government said that it has counted more than 400 civilian deaths so far in the suburbs of Kyiv, including those in Bucha.
Biden’s rhetoric towards his Russian counterpart, Putin, has been intensifying as the conflict in Ukraine drags on.
In mid-March, Biden referred to Putin as a “war criminal” in remarks that the White House quickly disavowed, saying the statement reflected the president’s personal opinion and not formal U.S. policy.
About a week later, the U.S. government formally accused the Russian Federation of war crimes.
Toward the end of March, Biden referred to Putin as “a dictator bent on rebuilding an empire.”
Most notably, however, Biden at one point appeared to call for regime change in Russia.
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” the president said.
True to form, White House officials subsequently had to walk back Biden’s statements.
One official said that Biden “was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change” but was instead insisting that Putin “cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region.”
This past Monday, Biden said, “[Putin] is a war criminal, but we have to gather information, we have to continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to continue to fight.”
His comments come as Russian forces continue to withdraw from Kyiv and the surrounding northern regions of Ukraine. However, this withdrawal is not a retreat, as Russian forces have continued to strike Ukraine’s southern coastal cities and move offensive operations into the country’s eastern region.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited parts of Ukraine’s recently vacated northern region and described the decimated residential areas as a “genocide.”
In a recent address to the Romanian parliament, Zelenskyy said, “Ordinary residents of an ordinary city near Kyiv. Their hands were tied behind their backs, they were shot in the back of the head or in the eye, killed just in the streets. Civilian vehicles were crushed by military equipment. Vehicles with people! They raped women and girls.”