By AP, published by Global News, plus BBC
US President Joe Biden today (Apr. 4) called for a war crimes trial against Russia President Vladimir Putin and said he’d seek more sanctions after reported atrocities in Ukraine.
“You saw what happened in Bucha,” Biden said. He added that Putin “is a war criminal.”
Biden’s comments to reporters came after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Bucha, one of the towns surrounding Kyiv where Ukrainian officials say the bodies of civilians have been found.
Zelenskyy called the Russian actions “genocide” and called for the West to apply tougher sanctions against Russia.
Biden, however, stopped short of calling the actions genocide.
The bodies of 410 civilians have been removed from Kyiv-area towns that were recently retaken from Russian forces, Ukraine’s prosecutor-general, Iryna Venediktova, said.
“We have to continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to continue the fight. And we have to gather all the detail so this can be an actual — have a war crimes trial,” Biden said.
“What’s happening in Bucha is outrageous and everyone sees it,” Biden added.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted today that the European Union will send investigators to Ukraine to help the local prosecutor general “document war crimes.”
Biden noted that he faced push back last month when he described Putin as a war criminal for the unfolding onslaught in Ukraine after hospitals and maternity wards were bombed.
In his remarks today, Biden made clear that label still applied.
“This guy is brutal and what’s happening to Bucha is outrageous, and everyone’s seen it,” Biden said.
Investigations into Putin’s actions had begun before the new allegations of atrocities outside Kyiv.
The US and more than 40 other countries are working together to investigate possible violations and abuses, after the passage of a resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council to establish a commission of inquiry.
There is another probe by the International Criminal Court, an independent body based in the Netherlands.
Meanwhile, Biden’s chief envoy to the United Nations, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, announced today that the US plans to seek a suspension of Russia from its seat on the UN’s top human rights body in the wake of more indications Russian forces may have committed war crimes in Ukraine.
That would require a decision by the UN General Assembly.
Russia and the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council – Britain, China, France and the United States – all currently have seats on the 47-member-state rights council, which is based in Geneva. The United States rejoined the council this year.
Red Cross team ‘stopped and held’ near Mariupol
“The team was stopped today while carrying out humanitarian efforts to help lead a safe passage corridor for civilians,” a spokesperson said.
The group is being held in Manhush, just under 20km (12 miles) from Mariupol.
Jason Straziuso told Reuters that the group were being held by police and it was “not a hostage situation”.
The ICRC has been in direct contact with the team and is “speaking with the parties on all sides to bring clarity to the situation and allow them to resume their humanitarian work”, the spokesperson said.
The Red Cross has been trying to evacuate people from Mariupol for days. Tens of thousands of people remain trapped in the city after weeks of heavy bombardment from the Russians.
People in Bucha treated worse than animals – Zelensky
Despite the human suffering there, he told reporters that residents were showing their humanity by ensuring homeless animals were fed.
“That’s a characteristic trait of our people, I think – treat animals the way you would treat humans,” he said.
“[But] you can see around what was done to this modern town. That’s a characteristic of Russian soldiers – treat people worse than animals. That is real genocide, what you have seen here today.”
Zelensky went on to blame Russia for “dragging out” peace talks in Turkey, saying this would only make the situation on the ground worse.
“With every day, when our army are moving into the previously occupied territory, you can see what’s happening,” he said.
“Day by day, they find bodies in cellars; people tortured, people killed,” he said.
Moscow has denied targeting civilians during its invasion.
Top: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits the town of Bucha after it was liberated from the Russian Army on April 4. Photo: Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images and publsihed by Global News
First and second insert: A photo shows massive destruction in the area of conflict at the Bucha town after it was liberated from the Russian army in Ukraine on April 4. Photo: Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images and published by Global News
Third insert: Thousands of people remain trapped in the city devastated by Russian shelling. Photo: Getty Images and published by BBC
Fourth insert; Locals walk past a destroyed Russian tank in the village of Dmytrivka, on the western outskirts of Kyiv. Photo: Reuters and published by BBC
Home Page: Ukrainian soldiers inspect the wreckage of a destroyed Russian armoured column on the road in Bucha, a suburb north of Kyiv, on April 3. Photo: Matthew Hatcher/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images and published by Global News