The Russian president has earned another round of harsh criticism after his troops attacked Ukrainian civilians, including children this week.
U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin for his armed forces' horrific attacks on Ukrainian civilians this week. The Democratic leader called the Russian president a "war criminal," to which Britain's U.N. Mission agreed, saying, "Russia is committing war crimes and targeting civilians."
According to CBN News, Russian forces have not only bombed hospital snad used human shields, but also targeted a building with a sign that clearly said it was housing children. On Wednesday, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave an address to the members of the U.S. Congress, who gave him a standing ovation even before he said one word. During his impassioned speech, he showed Congress footage of Russia's continued assault on Ukrainian civilians to rally for additional support from the West.
Ukrainian officials reported that Russian forces sent a bomb flying into a theater building in Mariupol where hundreds of civilians were seeking shelter, including children. The pavement near the building was clearly marked with huge white letters that spelled out "CHILDREN" in Russian. It is yet unclear if there were casualties, but reports say many had survived by hiding in a bomb shelter under the building.
Meanwhile, Russian troops are holding hundreds of Ukrainian civilians hostage in a hospital in Mariupol to protect their nearby military positions. In Chernihiv in the north of Ukraine, the U.S. embassy reported that Russian troops shot and killed 10 people who were standing in a bread line.
"Yesterday, President Biden said that - in his opinion - war crimes have been committed in Ukraine. Personally, I agree," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on Thursday, as per Al Jazeera. "Intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime. After all the destruction of the past three weeks, I find it difficult to conclude that the Russians are doing otherwise."
Blinken added that "there will be accountability and consequences for any war crimes that have been committed" and reminded Russia that "actions always speak louder than words."
U.S. officials said that Russia continues to face intense Ukrainian resistance, which might cause them to launch a chemical attack to escalate the war. Blinden said that they believe Moscow "may be setting the stage to use a chemical weapon, and then falsely blame Ukraine to justify escalating its attacks on the Ukrainian people."
Blinken also reported that Washington believes Russia is bringing in foreign mercenaries to help in their attack on Ukraine. The U.S. and its allies have placed numerous sanctions on Russia in response to its unprovoked attack on Ukraine and to avoid engaging in a delicate situation with Putin. Meanwhile, Washington also bolstered its military and humanitarian support to Kyiv. This week, President Biden pledged another $800 million in military aid for Ukraine on top of its initial $13.6 budget for Ukraine assistance.
Blinken urged "all nations" to use any leverage they have to urge Russia to end its attack on Ukraine. He also singled out China, which he described as having "a responsibility to use its influence with President Putin and to defend the international rules and principles that it professes to support."