U.S. President Joe Biden has again called President Vladimir Putin a war criminal and conveyed an intention to call for a war crimes trial for the Russian leader.
This after the United Nations Secretary General expressed his deep shock at the images of civilians killed in the Ukrainian town of Bucha – some which included the bodies of civilians, hands bound behind their backs and strewn across streets.
Ukraine Defence Ministry has pointed the finger at Russia, whose forces recently withdrew from the area, but Russia has denounced the accusation as a staged production by the authorities in Kyiv. Washington has also announced its intention to ask the General Assembly to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council in Geneva after the alleged massacre in Bucha.
A move to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council would require support from at least two-thirds of the 193-member General Assembly as the U.S. further ramps up diplomatic and political pressure on Moscow. U.S. President Joe Biden says. “You may remember I got criticized for calling Putin a war criminal. Well, the truth of the matter, you saw what happened in Bucha. This warrants him– he is a war criminal. But we have to gather the information. 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 crime trial. This guy is brutal, and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous. And everyone’s seen it.”
The International Criminal Court has already opened an investigation under jurisdiction Ukraine provided for investigations on its territory since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Local leaders say 50 bodies found after Russian forces withdrew from Bucha were the victims of extra-judicial killings but those tallies could not be independently verified.
The U.N. Secretary General’s Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq says, “Our point of principle is that there needs to be a full and thorough investigation as you saw, the secretary general expressed his horror about what we have seen, and he has called immediately for such an investigation. It’s not a question of doubting one side or doubting what the visual evidence we have at hand is. But we do believe, as always, that these need to be thoroughly investigated and we will make our evaluations based on the results of what those investigations entail.”
Moscow denies involvement in alleged Bucha killings
Moscow’s UN envoy Vasily Nebenzia rejected allegations that Russian troops were involved in atrocities in Bucha. “From the very beginning it has been clear that this is nothing else but another staged provocation aimed at discrediting and dehumanizing of the Russian military and leveling political pressure on Russia. I assure you, I’m sure that not many of you know about Russian military but Russian military is nothing and has nothing what it is being accused of in particular in having cruel atrocities against the civil population, it is not the case, it will never be the case and it was never the case.”
U.K. Ambassador Barbara Woodward -who assumed the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of April – pressed on how they would work to broaden the coalition against Russia given concerns among some countries about past violations of the UN Charter made by western nations now seeking to prosecute Russia’s actions in Ukraine.