Washington (AP) – United States President Joe Biden has described Russian President Putin as a “murderous dictator.”
Putin is a “murderous dictator, a pure criminal who is waging an immoral war against the people of Ukraine,” Biden said in Washington on Thursday. “Putin is paying a heavy price for his aggression,” Biden said shortly afterward.
Biden increasingly hardens the tone
Biden now spoke of a “turning point in history” in view of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. This only happens every few generations. “I think we are in a real battle between autocracies and democracies and whether or not democracies can be preserved.”
Biden sharpened his tone further on Wednesday, describing Putin as a “war criminal.” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “He spoke from his heart.”
Blinken sees signs of Russian war crimes
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also accuses Russia of war crimes in Ukraine, but describes this as his personal opinion. “President Biden said yesterday that he believes war crimes have been committed in Ukraine,” Blinken said. “I personally agree. Deliberately targeting civilians is a war crime.” He added: “Our experts are in the process of documenting and assessing possible war crimes being committed in Ukraine.”
Psaki said Thursday that the US State Department is reviewing information on possible war crimes and passing it on to responsible international authorities; Psaki left open which institutions she was referring to specifically. The spokeswoman added that these international organizations will decide if international law was violated, if it was a war crime according to their standards and what the consequences would be.
According to the US government, one American was killed in the Russian war of aggression. “I can confirm that a US citizen was killed,” Blinken said when asked. “I don’t have any more details for you.”
Weeks ago, the US State Department had urged all US citizens to leave Ukraine. The US embassy in kyiv has been closed and diplomatic staff have been transferred to Poland.
US government warns China
The US government again warned China not to support Russia in the war against Ukraine with military equipment. In such a case, the United States would not hesitate to impose “costs” on China, Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said on Thursday, alluding to possible sanctions. China has a responsibility to use its influence over Russian President Vladimir Putin to promote an end to the war and compliance with international norms.
However, the Beijing government does not want to condemn the Russian war of aggression and is taking a neutral stance, Blinken said. “We are concerned that she is considering directly supporting Russia with military equipment for use in Ukraine,” she said. President Joe Biden will speak with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Friday and will make it clear that China will be responsible for any support given to Russia, Blinken said.
Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan and China’s top foreign policy chief Yang Jiechi had previously met in Rome on Monday for talks.
The US government has repeatedly warned China and companies in the People’s Republic not to support Russia in order to circumvent Western sanctions. In such a case, punitive measures could also be extended to Chinese companies, he said. The EU and the US are significantly more important trading partners for China than Russia.