President Joe Biden on Monday called for a war crimes trial against Russian President Vladimir Putin and more sanctions against Russia following new reports of atrocities in Ukraine after Russian troops withdrew from areas around from Kyiv.
“We saw what happened to Bucha. He’s a war criminal,” Biden told reporters upon his return to the White House from Delaware, adding that the Russian leader was “brutal.”
Biden on Monday joined a growing chorus of world leaders condemning Russia after Ukrainian officials said the bodies of 410 civilians were found in towns in the Kyiv region that had recently been retaken from Russian forces.
In Bucha, 280 people were buried in mass graves, according to Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who visited the city on Monday. Associated Press reporters saw the bodies of at least 21 people at various locations around Bucha.
DO ATROCITIES CHANGE THE GAME? Atrocities near Kyiv fuel global outrage. Will this be a tipping point in the war?
Leaders and senior government officials in France, Albania, Kosovo, Spain, Poland, Estonia, Japan, New Zealand and the EU’s top diplomat have condemned these actions., and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called for an investigation. Russia has denied the charges.
A new report by Human Rights Watch says the nonprofit has documented several cases of “violations of the laws of war” committed by Russia against civilians in Ukraine. The report, released on Sunday, says Russian military forces committed war crimes in Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Kyiv, including repeated rapes, two cases of summary executions and other cases of unlawful violence and threats against civilians from February 27 to March 14.
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►Germany’s defense minister has floated the idea of European countries suspending gas supplies to Russia in light of alleged attacks on civilians in Bucha.
►Lithuania says it has completely cut itself off from gas imports from Russia, apparently becoming the first of 27 European Union countries to use Russian gas to break its energy dependence on Moscow .
►The British Ministry of Defense says heavy fighting has continued in Mariupol, and that the city is “almost certainly a key objective of the Russian invasion” as it would link Russia to occupied Crimea by land .
►In his annual letter to shareholders, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said handling Russia sanctions was a “huge undertaking” and the bank could lose $1 billion over time. The war and past trade disputes with China “will likely affect geopolitics for decades,” he said.
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In Bucha, Zelensky calls on Russia to end the war
Visiting Bucha, on the outskirts of kyiv, where reports of dead civilians and mass graves emerged after Russian troops withdrew, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Russia to reach an agreement to end at war.
Zelenskyy, however, also acknowledged the difficulties in conducting peace talks after the Bucha killings. “It is very difficult to conduct negotiations when you see what they have done here,” said Zelenskyy, adding that “dead people were found in barrels, basements, strangled, tortured” in the suburbs. and elsewhere.
“The longer the Russian Federation drags on, the more it will aggravate its own situation and this war,” Zelenskyy said.
Zelenskyy says Ukraine will create special war crimes investigation; The EU offers to help
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said the country will investigate alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine as growing reports show dead civilians outside kyiv. The EU offers to lend a hand.
Calling it a special justice mechanism, Zelenskyy said the investigation would be conducted in conjunction with international prosecutors and judges. “The time has come to make the war crimes committed by Russian troops the last such evil on Earth,” he said.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the European Union was ready to help Ukraine with the investigation.
“The perpetrators of these heinous crimes must not go unpunished,” she said in a statement. statement after a call with Zelenskyy. Von der Leyen said the European Union would send a joint investigation team to help Ukrainian prosecutors collect evidence.
The long arm of American law has reached Spain to seize one of the most prized possessions of a Russian oligarch.
The US government on Monday seized a 254-foot yacht belonging to Viktor Vekselberg, an oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. It is the first such seizure by the Biden administration under sanctions imposed after the invasion of Ukraine. Some of the sanctions target the expensive assets of Russian elites.
Associated Press reporters in the port of Palma de Mallorca, the capital of Spain’s Balearic Islands, watched as FBI and Homeland Security agents and members of the Spanish Civil Guard exit the $120 million vessel Tango dollars from Vekselberg.
All of Vekselberg’s assets in the United States are frozen and US companies are prohibited from doing business with him and his entities. The Ukrainian-born businessman built his fortune by investing in the aluminum and oil industries in the post-Soviet era.
US calls for Russia’s suspension from UN Human Rights Council, US Ambassador to UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on Monday.
The announcement comes after reports of dead civilians and mass graves in Bucha, about 35 miles northwest of kyiv. Noting the 140 countries that voted to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, “My message to these 140 countries: the images of Bucha and the devastation across Ukraine compel us now to match our words with the action,” Thomas-Greenfield said in a Tweeter.
Thomas-Greenfield said Russia should not hold a position in a body that promotes human rights around the world and examines alleged violations, where she can use her position as “a propaganda tool to suggest that she has a legitimate concern about human rights.”
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Human Rights Watch documents executions and rapes
The atrocities allegedly committed by Russian forces in Ukraine have not only been observed by journalists, but also documented by the non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch.
HRW said interviews with victims, witnesses and residents of the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine revealed several war crimes, including executions, rape and other forms of violence against civilians.
In one case in late February, the Russians executed six men in the village of Staryi Bykiv in the Chernihiv region, the organization said, citing a report from the mother of one of the victims.
“The cases we have documented represent unspeakable and deliberate cruelty and violence against Ukrainian civilians,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Rapes, murders and other acts of violence against persons detained by Russian forces must be investigated as war crimes.”
Zelenskyy gives an impassioned speech at the Grammys
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the 64th Grammy Awards on Sunday, speaking in a pre-recorded segment performed at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas before John Legend paid tribute to the war-torn country.
Zelenskyy urged the assembled artists to “tell our story” of a country under attack by Russian forces.
“Our musicians wear bulletproof vests instead of tuxedos. They sing for the wounded in hospitals,” Zelenskyy said. “Even for those who can’t hear them, but their music will break through.”
Zelenskyy ended the speech by listing the besieged Ukrainian cities. “I dream of them being alive and free,” he said. “Free as you and the Grammy stage.”
Contributor: Rebecca Morin; The Associated Press