U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday called for a war crimes trial over the alleged atrocities against civilians in Bucha, Ukraine, and said he wants more sanctions imposed on Russia.
Calling President Vladimir Putin “a war criminal” and the killings “a war crime,” Mr. Biden told reporters there should be “a war crimes trial.”
Mr. Biden has called Mr. Putin a war criminal in the past, provoking an angry response from the Kremlin.
“You may remember I got criticised,” he said. “Well the truth of the matter is, you saw what happened in Bucha... This guy is brutal and what’s happening to Bucha is outrageous and everyone’s seen it.”
Mr. Putin “is a war criminal,” he said — but he added that “we have to gather all the details” to be able to have a trial.
International journalists over the weekend found corpses in civilian clothes, some with their hands bound, in the town of Bucha outside Ukraine’s capital after Kyiv’s forces retook it from Russia’s Army.
The scale of the killings is still being pieced together. On Sunday, Ukrainian prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova said 410 civilian bodies had been recovered in the wider Kyiv region after Russian troops pulled back.
Ukraine and Western leaders have erupted in outrage over the deaths in Bucha.
Earlier on Monday, the Kremlin rejected accusations that Russian forces were responsible for killing civilians near Kyiv and suggested images of corpses were “fakes”.
“We categorically reject all allegations,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.
Mr. Peskov said that Russian “experts at the Ministry of Defence have identified signs of video fakes and various fakes”.
“We would demand that many international leaders do not rush to sweeping accusations and at least listen to our arguments,”Mr. Peskov said.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has called for a special UN Security Council meeting on Monday to address what it said was a “heinous provocation” to blame Russian forces.
Russian investigators also announced a probe into the images, saying that according to Moscow’s military they “do not correspond to reality and are provocative in nature”.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said the civilian deaths would be deemed as “genocide” by international leaders.
“These are war crimes and it will be recognised by the world as genocide,” Mr. Zelensky said during a visit to Bucha.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Monday called for an international investigation into what he termed a “genocide”.
The U.S. also said it would seek to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said urgent discussions were underway on tougher sanctions against Russia.
Russia has redoubled its efforts in Ukraine’s south and east, including strikes on Sunday on the strategic Black Sea port of Odessa.
Meanwhile, the United Nations said that more than 4.2 million Ukrainian refugees have now fled the country since the Russian invasion, adding that the humanitarian situation was worsening.