Here's Why President Biden Is Calling Putin A 'War Criminal'

Here's Why President Biden Is Calling Putin A 'War Criminal'

Saturday, Ukraine declared the town of Bucha free from Russian occupation. However, as Russian troops retreat from areas near Kyiv after a failed attempt to encircle the capital city, accounts of horrific alleged atrocities have emerged. We say “alleged,” but the pictures speak for themselves.

French news agency Agence France-Presse captured images of the lifeless bodies of at least 20 civilian men lining a single street. According to CNN, “the hands of one man are tied behind his back with a piece of white cloth. Another man lies alone, tangled up in a bicycle by a grassy bank. A third man lies in the middle of the road, near the charred remains of a burned-out car.”

Bucha Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk revealed that almost 300 people have been buried in mass graves. He told Reuters:

Corpses of executed people still line the Yabluska street in Bucha. Their hands are tied behind their backs with white 'civilian' rags, they were shot in the back of their heads. So you can imagine what kind of lawlessness they perpetrated here.

Witnesses told The Guardian that Russian soldiers fired on men fleeing the town and killed civilians at will.

According to Bucha resident Taras Schevchenko, quoted in The Guardian, Russian soldiers denied people safe passage through a humanitarian corridor and instead gunned down men as they fled across an open field. He said bodies were "scattered on the pavements” and some of the dead were “squashed by tanks … like animal skin rugs”.

Sensitive images are below.

Intentionally killing civilians is a war crime, and western leaders have denounced Russia’s vicious slaughter of unarmed people. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz lamented the Ukrainian “streets littered with bodies. Bodies buried in makeshift conditions ... women, children and the elderly among the victims.”

Melinda Simmons, the British ambassador to Ukraine, said she believed Russian used rape as a weapon of war: “Women raped in front of their kids, girls in front of their families, as a deliberate act of subjugation. Rape is a war crime.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN’s Dana Bash that the gruesome images of dead Ukrainians were a "punch to the gut,” but he resisted accusing Russian troops of attempted genocide. Instead, he said:

"We will look hard and document everything that we see, put it all together, make sure that the relevant institutions and organizations that are looking at this, including the State Department, have everything they need to assess exactly what took place in Ukraine, who's responsible and what it amounts to."

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy didn’t pull any punches, decisively declaring Russia’s actions genocide. On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” he said this is “the elimination of the whole nation, and the people. We are the citizens of Ukraine. We have more than 100 nationalities. This is about the destruction and extermination of all these nationalities.”

Vladimir Putin is on record as denying not just Ukrainian sovereignty, but Ukraine’s actual existence. This viewpoint is reportedly deeply ingrained in the minds of Russian leadership. This isn’t technically the Holocaust, but it’s arguably still a war with ultimate goal of destroying an entire nation and distinct culture.

Russia’s defense ministry, who no one should trust for shit, released a statement Sunday saying it hadn’t killed civilians in Bucha. We apparently shouldn’t believe our own lying eyes. The defense ministry insultingly claims that the video footage and photographs confirming Russia’s barbaric actions are “yet another provocation” by the West. Russia asked the UN Security Council to convene a meeting Monday to discuss the actions of “Ukrainian radicals.” It’s as if these monsters are suggesting innocent people died their hands behind their own backs and somehow shot themselves in those same backs.

The atrocities in Bucha are so awful that Russia apologist Tulsi Gabbard felt inclined to tweet her own "Dear Mr. President Putin" message:

President Putin, not only is your brutal attack on Ukraine reprehensible, it has been a huge geopolitical error which has already cost Russia dearly. Those costs will get higher every day you remain in Ukraine. So it is in the best interest of the Russian people…

… and the people of Ukraine, that you pull your forces out now. It is still not too late to salvage the kinship felt between the Russian and Ukrainian people, as expressed in this video clip from a Ukrainian soldier.

Just a couple weeks ago, Gabbard was blaming President Joe Biden for Russia’s escalating war of aggression. This attempted heel-face turn is too little, too late, especially considering that Russian state TV frequently shows footage of Gabbard on Tucker Carlson’s white power hour. TV host Vladimir Soloviev recently called this former member of Congress “our girlfriend Tulsi” and immediately replied “yes” when asked if Gabbard’s some kind of Russian agent.

The West is set to impose even tougher sanctions on Russia, and President Biden just told reporters he’s seeking a war crimes trial for Putin.

The dead in Bucha demand justice.

[Guardian / CNN]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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