Biden, U.S. Allies Vow to Ramp Up Pressure on Moscow Over Alleged Massacre of Civilians in Bucha
The US and its allies have vowed to ramp up the pressure on Russia after Ukraine accused Moscow of massacring civilians in Bucha, a charge that Russia denies.
Biden told reporters on Monday (April 4) that he is planning more sanctions on Russia and called for Putin to be put on trial for war crimes. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the International Criminal Court (ICC) could be a potential venue for a trial, although the US has a contentious relationship with the court, and is not a party to the ICC.
The Trump administration sanctioned ICC officials for their probe into US war crimes in Afghanistan. The sanctions were lifted by the Biden administration, but Biden officials have criticized the ICC for opening an investigation into Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its wars in Gaza.
While the details of what happened in Bucha, a suburb near Kyv, are not confirmed, Biden accused Putin of being responsible for the killings. “I got criticized for calling Putin a war criminal … you saw what happened in Bucha. This warrants him — he is a war criminal,” he said.
Also on Monday, a senior Pentagon official told reporters that the US military was in no position to confirm or refute Ukrainian claims. “The Pentagon can’t independently and single-handedly confirm that, but we’re also not in any position to refute those claims,” the official said. Later in the day, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said it was “obvious” Russia was responsible but didn’t offer any details.
Russia argues that it couldn’t have been responsible for the civilian killings since its forces withdrew from Bucha on March 30, and the main Ukrainian accusations didn’t start until April 3. On March 31, Anatolii Fedoruk, the mayor of Bucha, posted a video announcing the “liberation” of the city.
According to photos from The New York Times, Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov battalion, which is part of the Ukrainian National Guard, was patrolling Bucha on Saturday, April 2.
EU Investigators to Assist Ukraine in Probing Alleged Russian War Crimes in Bucha and Other Areas
The EU will send a team of investigators to assist Ukraine in probing alleged war crimes on the ground in Bucha and other areas, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Monday (April 4) after holding phone talks with Zelensky. The move comes after multiple dead civilians were found in Bucha over the weekend, with Kiev promptly attributing the killings to Russian troops.
“This afternoon I spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the dreadful murders that have been uncovered in Bucha and other areas from which Russian troops have recently left,” von der Leyen said in a statement.
The investigative team dispatched by the EU will not act as an independent entity but will assist Ukrainian authorities in collecting evidence on site, the official signaled.
“The EU has set up a Joint Investigation Team with Ukraine to collect evidence and investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity,” von der Leyen explained. “The EU is ready to reinforce this effort by sending investigation teams on the ground to support the Ukrainian Prosecution Services. Eurojust and Europol are ready to assist.”
The Bucha affair unfolded after multiple dead civilians were found in the suburban town northwest of the capital. Kiev without delay blamed Russian troops for the purported mass killing, with top Western officials backing its assessment and also accusing Moscow of war crimes.
Russia has vehemently denied any involvement in the killings, branding the whole Bucha affair a deliberately staged “provocation” to frame Russian troops.