Biden says Russian leader Putin ‘is a war criminal’ for Ukraine attacks

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US President Joe Biden speaks about funds to aid Ukraine, in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House, in Washington, DC, on March 16, 2022.

Nicholas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images

President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he believes Russian leader Vladimir Putin “is a war criminal” for his attacks on Ukraine.

It appears to be the first time that Biden has publicly branded Putin with that phrase.

Biden’s comment came hours after Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., said the president “absolutely” should call Putin a war criminal.

Kelly cited Russia’s attacks on “hospitals, maternity wards, apartment buildings” In Ukraine, and its military’s “direct fire on civilians.”

In an exchange with a reporter, Biden was asked, “Mr. President, after everything we’ve seen, are you ready to call Putin a war criminal.”

Biden initially replied, “No.”

The reporter then asked if Biden will “go to Poland,” where many Ukraine refugees have fled the Russian invasion.

Biden then said, “Did you ask me whether I should call?”

“Oh, I think he is a war criminal,” Biden said.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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