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, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Associated Press reporters saw the bodies of at least 21 people at various locations in the city.
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 into what happened. 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 challenges facing negotiations 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 added.
EU to help Ukraine in war crimes investigation
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday that the European Union stands ready to help Ukraine in its investigation into alleged war crimes.
“The perpetrators of these heinous crimes must not go unpunished,” von der Leyen said in a statement after a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Von der Leyen said the European Union would send a joint investigation team to help Ukrainian prosecutors collect evidence.
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, outside Ukraine. 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.
The UN human rights body promotes human rights around the world and investigates alleged violations. Thomas-Greenfield said Russia should not have a position in the body and be able to use its position as “a propaganda tool to suggest it has a legitimate human rights concern”.
Zelensky says Ukraine will create special war crimes investigation
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said the country will investigate alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine as growing reports show dead civilians outside kyiv.
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.
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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 shown at the MGM Grand Garden Arena 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