Russia Responds Harshly After Biden Calls Putin a ‘War Criminal’


On Wednesday (16 Mar), US President Joe Biden called Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” after watching the harrowing footage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that had been released by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a plea for help.

When Biden was first asked the question, “Mr President, after everything we have seen, are you ready to call Mr Putin a war criminal?”

At first, the 46th President had brushed off her query with a quick “No”, before moving towards another part of the room, only for him to double back to the off-camera reporter to re-confirm if he had heard the question correctly.

Then, in an off-the-cuff manner, Biden changed his response, saying: “Oh, I think he’s a war criminal.”

Oh, well.

Biden Calls Putin A “War Criminal” Outright

In the realm of politics, it’s very rare for politicians to use words like “war crime” or “war criminal”, owing to the significance and definition of the phrase.


Thus far, many officials have been cautious with the usage of such words—especially when it could be held against them—though that doesn’t include British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who bluntly stated that war crimes were being committed (just think of Boris Johnson as Donald Trump).

But for President Biden, it was a surprising twist for him to change his answer.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki later clarified that Biden was “speaking from his heart” after witnessing the “barbaric actions of a brutal dictator” that he witnessed on television.

It was the same footage that prompted the US President to authorise another US$800 million in military assistance to Ukraine, which includes anti-aircrafts, anti-armour systems, weapons, and drones, but he stopped short of implementing a “no-fly zone” that President Zelenskyy requested for.


Prior to his off-the-cuff response, Biden had said, “We saw reports that Russian forces were holding hundreds of doctors and patients hostage in the largest hospital in Mariupol. These are atrocities. They’re an outrage to the world.”

Kremlin: What Biden Said Was An “Unforgivable Rhetoric”

Of course, Moscow didn’t take that remark lying down.

Shortly thereafter, Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Russian states news agency Tass, “We believe such rhetoric to be unacceptable and unforgiveable of the part of the head of a state, whose bombs have killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world.”

Ah, yes, a pot calling the kettle black.

You do realise that neither side has the moral high ground here, right?

For the Americans, you may refer to the Vietnam War that you’d very much like to wipe out from your history books, what’s with the napalm, My Lai massacre, and the bombing of the Ho Chi Minh Trail…

Whereas for President Putin, every atrocity committed, and damage left in its wake is caught in high definition and flooding social media from all parts of Ukraine.

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Can Putin Be Constituted As A War Criminal?

It depends.

If we’re going with the legal definition that was listed in the Geneva Convention, the deliberate targeting of civilians is a war crime.


Perhaps the first wave of airstrikes can be considered as a calculated attack against military infrastructure, since both the Russian Defence Ministry and the Ukrainian officials confirmed that military ground facilities had been taken out, but what about the rest?

There is the shelling and artillery strikes on Mariupol that lasted for weeks, starting by the hundreds the moment the “special military operation” was carried out.

Access to water and electricity had been cut off in the depths of winter, the citizens in Mariupol had been left to starve as they were completely blockaded. It was only when a partial ceasefire was called and two humanitarian corridors for Mariupol and Volnovakha were opened that people had a chance to flee and had access to the most basic necessities.

Even then, the Russian forces proceeded to take over the Ternopil municipal city hospital No 2 and hold nearly 400 patients and doctors hostage.

It was said that Russia bombed deliberately residential buildings, schools and hospitals.

On 9 March, a Russian airstrike was launched against a children’s hospital in the besieged Mariupol city port, which trapped and injured many women in labour and children in the wreckage.


Recently, Moscow targeted a drama theatre that had been converted into a shelter for more than 1,000 people.

Image: Maxar Technologies

Footage of residential buildings destroyed were captured and take down; its inhabitants could be seen salvaging the wreckage and throwing the debris outside the window to clear up some space.

It has been 3 weeks since Putin declared war against Ukraine, but the death toll is already higher than 20,000.

More than 3 million Ukrainians have been displaced from their homes.

Considering the magnitude of the destruction, it’s not far-off to constitute them as “war crimes”.


For Putin, he could be framed as a war criminal in the widely recognised legal doctrine of command responsibility, wherein a commander orders, knows, or is in the position to know about the occurrence of crimes but does nothing to prevent them.

They could be held legally responsible for their inaction or for the intentional harms inflicted.

However, Moscow denies targeting civilians, which is complete horse manure.

Yes, 10 people queuing up in the city of Cherniv can be randomly bombed while queuing for bread.

The Russian forces must have “accidentally” fired artillery at a convoy of evacuees from Mariupol on Wednesday (16 Mar), thus wounding five more people.

Perhaps in times where wars were not as heavily photographed, a country, commander, or politician could escape from their crimes without being held responsible for anything. 

But this is 2022, we’re the middle of an ever-expanding technological era.

Don’t treat people like they’re idiots. We know what our eyes see.


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