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On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” as Russia continues to intensify its attack on Ukraine.
Biden stated that he believes he is a war criminal.
It is clear that Biden’s appointment represents a change in direction from the previous administration’s position. The administration, including Vice President Biden, had previously refrained from claiming war crimes were being committed in Ukraine, citing investigations into whether such a term could be applied.
Nevertheless, officials have made it clear that they believe atrocities are taking place and that the intentional targeting of civilians would amount to war crimes.
Jen Psaki, the press secretary for President Barack Obama, said afterward, “The President’s remarks speak for themselves.” According to Psaki, Biden had been “speaking from the heart.”
Despite this, she said, the investigation into war crimes is still in progress at the State Department.
“There is a legal process that continues to – is underway, which continues to take place at the State Department. The State Department will provide any updates regarding the progress of that legal process.”
When questioned by a reporter later in the briefing, Psaki responded, “I believe he answered a direct question that was asked and responded to what he had seen on television. We have all watched barbarous acts and horrific acts committed by foreign dictators in a country that has threatened and taken the lives of individuals – women who are pregnant, reporters, and so on – and I think he was answering a direct question.”
In response to a reporter’s question asking Biden if Putin was a war criminal, Biden initially answered “no,” but returned to the group of reporters shortly thereafter to clarify what had been asked. In response to the question of whether or not Putin was a war criminal, he answered in the affirmative.