Joe Biden has branded Russian leader Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” on the day Russian troops bombed a theater shelter Ukrainian civilians.
Sir. Biden made the comments after an emotional speech to the US Congress by the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskywho posted a video showing Ukrainians suffering.
In an off-the-cuff meeting with journalists, Mr Biden was asked: “Mr President, after all we have seen, are you ready to call Putin a war criminal?”
“I think he’s a war criminal,” Mr Biden replied.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state-run news agency Tass: “We believe such rhetoric is unacceptable and unforgivable from the head of a state whose bombs have killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world.”
In previously prepared remarks, Mr Biden had highlighted “atrocities” committed by Russian forces and “Putin’s immoral, unethical attacks on the civilian population.”
He had said: “Yesterday we saw reports that Russian forces were holding hundreds of doctors and patients hostage in the largest hospital in Mariupol.
“It’s atrocities. They are an indignation to the world. And the world is united in our support for Ukraine and our willingness to make Putin pay a very high price. “
Sir. Biden announced that the United States would offer an additional $ 800 million in security assistance to Ukraine to fight Russia, with the new package including drones and anti-tank systems.
“More will come as we pick up additional stocks of equipment that we are ready to transfer,” Mr Biden said.
He added: “We are united in our abhorrence of Putin’s corrupt attacks and we will continue to have their backs as they fight for their freedom, their democracy, their survival. And we will give Ukraine the weapons to fight and defend itself through all the difficult days ahead. “
Russian troops on Wednesday launched devastating new attacks on Ukrainian civiliansmortally shot people while standing in line to get bread, bombing a theater where hundreds were in shelters.
Local authorities in the southern port city of Mariupol said Russian forces had bombed a theater where up to 1,200 people may have sought refuge.
A satellite image taken two days ago shows the Russian word for “children” in large white letters outside the theater.
Other scenes of violence on Wednesday emerged from the city of Chernihiv, where 10 people were shot and killed by Moscow forces as they stood in line to buy bread, according to US officials.
Graphic video footage shared online appeared to show corpses scattered across the ground after the deadly attack. The US Embassy in Kiev described the incident as “terrible”.
“Today, Russian forces shot and killed 10 people standing in line for bread in Chernihiv,” the embassy said in a tweet.
‘Such horrific attacks must stop. We are considering all available options to ensure responsibility for any atrocity in Ukraine. “
In the southeastern city of Melitopol, the local mayor was released on Wednesday after five days in Russian captivity. Sir. Zelensky’s office stressed that the capture of civilians is a violation of the Geneva Conventions.
Shocking footage also appeared to show a Ukrainian civilian with raised arms being shot and killed by Russian forces just a few kilometers from the capital Kiev.
Drone footage published by the German public television station ZDF’s Frontal program showed a person pulling up to the side of a highway on the outskirts of Kiev and getting out of his car. He could be seen lifting his arms before falling to the ground.
British authorities said yesterday morning that the Russian advance towards Ukraine had stalled as a result of fierce Ukrainian resistance.