Biden says Russia intentionally targeting civilians in Ukraine
President Biden said in an exchange with reporters on Wednesday that Russia has been intentionally targeting civilian areas in Ukraine.
“It’s clear they are,” Biden said when asked as he departed the White House if Russia was deliberately targeting civilians as it continues its military attack against Ukraine.
But Biden said it was too early to say whether Russia has committed war crimes in Ukraine.
“We are following it very closely. It’s early to say that,” Biden said.
The International Criminal Court this week opened an investigation into allegations of war crimes, including previous claims stemming from Russia’s occupation of Crimea in 2014 and more recent reports surrounding Moscow’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Russian strikes have hit residential neighborhoods in the city of Kharkiv and a major television tower and Holocaust memorial site in the capital of Kyiv this week.
The United Nations said on Tuesday that at least 136 civilians, including 13 children, have been killed in Ukraine since last Thursday while 400 have been injured.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday that recent Russian attacks against civilian targets in Ukraine qualify as war crimes.
“What we have seen already from [President] Vladimir Putin’s regime in the use of the munitions that they have already been dropping on innocent civilians, in my view, already fully qualifies as a war crime, and I know that the ICC prosecutor is already investigating, and I am sure the whole House will support that,” Johnson said.
Biden also said that “nothing is off the table” when asked Wednesday whether the U.S. is considering banning Russian oil imports to punish Moscow for its attack on Ukraine.
The U.S., in concert with European allies, has imposed sanctions on Russian banks and elites, including Putin himself, and cut off Russia from its foreign currency reserves. The West has thus far resisted sanctions on Russia’s energy industry due to the reliance of Europe on Russian gas.
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