The US President did not, however, label the killings a “genocide” but said he was looking into additional sanctions against Russia.
Biden said the images coming from Bucha warranted calling Putin a “war criminal,” adding, “but we have to gather the information. We have to continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to continue the fight and we have to get all the details so this can be an actual — have a war crime trial.”
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said later Monday that the US hasn’t yet seen evidence of “systematic” killings that would warrant designating what’s underway in Ukraine a genocide.
“Based on what we have seen so far — we have seen atrocities. We have seen war crimes. We have not seen a level of systemic deprivation of life of the Ukrainian people to rise to the level of genocide,” Sullivan said during a White House press briefing.
But the images from Bucha, Sullivan said, underscore that “now is not the time for complacency,” stressing the importance of ongoing US support for Ukraine. He said the administration is “working around the clock” to fulfill security assistance requests from Ukraine, detailing the US and allied response so far and hinting at forthcoming “additional military assistance in the coming days.”
“We expect additional new capabilities to be delivered in the near future. We can’t always advertise what is being delivered out of deference to our allies and partners or for operational sensitivities, but we are moving with speed and efficiency to deliver,” he added.
Sullivan also confirmed that the US will issue additional sanctions against Russia this week, saying that the administration is “coordinating with our allies and partners on what the exact parameters of that will be.”
The White House has declined to go into specifics of how Biden’s call for a war crimes trial for Putin would move forward, with Sullivan saying the US would have to “consult with our allies and partners on what makes most sense as a mechanism.”
Biden’s assessment that the killings did not amount to a genocide put him at odds with that of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who used the term during an interview with CBS on Sunday.
“This guy (Putin) is brutal and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous and everyone’s seen it,” Biden said.
The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed the extensive footage of dead civilians in Bucha was “fake” and that “not a single local resident suffered from any violent actions” during Russia’s occupation of the town. “In the settlements of the Kiev region, Russian military personnel delivered and issued 452 tons of humanitarian aid to civilians,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Russian military, Sullivan said during the briefing, is “revising its war aims” in Ukraine, warning that the next phase of invasion could be “protracted” with Russia’s aim being to “surround and overwhelm” east Ukraine.
Sullivan said the White House has assessed that Russia will focus on defeating forces in Luhansk and Donetsk provinces and could potentially extend its force projection and presence deeper into Ukraine.
This story has been updated with comments from national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak, Betsy Klein and Nikki Carvajal contributed to this report.
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