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 retreated from areas around Kyiv.
«We saw what happened in Bucha. He is a war criminal,” Biden told reporters when returning to the White House from Delaware, adding the Russian leader is “brutal.”
Biden joined a growing chorus of world leaders on Monday who condemned Russia after Ukrainian officials said the bodies of 410 civilians were found in Kyiv-area towns that were recently retaken from Russian forces.
In Bucha, 280 people were buried in mass graves, according to Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Associated Press reporters saw the bodies of at least 21 people in various spots around the city.
Leaders and top government officials in France, Albania, Kosovo, Spain, Poland, Estonia, Japan, New Zealand and the EU’s top diplomat condemned the actions, and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an investigation into what happened. Russia has dismissed the accusations.
A new report from Human Rights Watch says the nonprofit has documented several cases of Russia committing «laws-of-war violations» against civilians in Ukraine. The report, released Sunday, said Russian military forces have committed war crimes in Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Kyiv, including repeated rape, two cases of summary execution and other cases of unlawful violence and threats against civilians from Feb. 27 to March 14.
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►Germany’s defense minister floated the idea of European countries halting gas supplies from Russia in light of the alleged attacks on civilians in Bucha.
►Lithuania says it has cut itself off entirely of gas imports from Russia, apparently becoming the first of the European Union’s 27 nations using Russian gas to break its energy dependence upon Moscow.
►The UK Ministry of Defense said heavy fighting has continued in Mariupol, and that the city is «almost certainly a key objective of the Russian invasion» because it would connect Russia to the occupied territory of Crimea by land.
►In his annual letter to shareholders, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said managing sanctions against Russia has been an «enormous undertaking» and that the bank could lose $1 billion over time. The war and prior trade disputes with China «likely will affect geopolitics for decades,» he said.
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In Bucha, Zelenskyy calls on Russia to end war
Visiting Bucha on the outskirts of Kyiv, where reports of dead civilians and mass graves have come to light after Russian troops retreated, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for Russia to reach an agreement to end the war.
Zelenskyy, however, also acknowledged the challenges facing negotiations after the killings in Bucha. «It’s very difficult to conduct negotiations when you see what they did here,» Zelenskyy said, adding that «dead people have been found in barrels, basements, strangled, tortured» in the suburb and elsewhere.
The BBC reported Zelenskyy met with local residents and reiterated that Russia had committed war crimes. He also called on Western leaders to come to Bucha to see the destruction.
«The longer the Russian Federation drags it out, the worse it will exacerbate its own situation and this war,» Zelenskyy added.
EU to aid Ukraine in war crimes investigation
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Monday that the European Union was prepared 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 to seek Russia’s suspension from UN human rights body
The United States is calling for Russia’s suspension from the United Nations Human Rights Council, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Monday.
The announcement comes after news of dead civilians and mass graves in Bucha, outside Ukraine. Noting the 140 countries that voted to condemn Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, «My message to those 140 countries: the images out of Bucha and devastation across Ukraine require us to now match our words with action,» Thomas-Greenfield said in a tweet.
The U.N.’s human rights body promotes human rights around the world and looks into alleged violations. Thomas-Greenfield said Russia should not have a position in the body and be able to use its position as «a tool of propaganda to suggest they have a legitimate concern about human rights.»
Zelenskyy says Ukraine will create special investigation into war crimes
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the country would conduct an investigation into alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine as mounting reports show dead civilians outside Kyiv.
Calling it a special justice mechanism, Zelenskyy said the probe would be 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 makes impassioned speech at Grammys
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the 64th Grammy Awards Sunday, speaking in a pre-recorded segment shown at the MGM Grand Garden Arena before John Legend performed a tribute to the war-torn country.
Zelenskyy urged artists assembled to «tell our story» of a country under attack by Russian forces.
«Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos. They sing to the wounded in hospitals,» Zelenskyy said. ‘Even to those who cannot hear them, but their music will break through.»
Zelenskyy ended the speech by listing Ukrainian cities under siege. «I have a dream of them living, and free,» he said. «Free like you and the Grammy stage.»
– Bryan Alexander
Contributing: Rebecca Morin; The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ukraine live updates: Biden calls for Putin to face war crimes trial