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Commenting on the increasingly horrific images that have emerged from Bucha this week revealing the staggering brutality of Russian violence against civilians in Ukraine, President Joe Biden minced no words in his assessment of Vladmir Putin: “He is a war criminal,” the president said on Monday. The statement generated a significant new round of media attention, notwithstanding the reality that it was not exactly news. The U.S. State Department had issued a formal statement in March conveying its assessment “that members of Russia’s forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine,” and the president himself had called Putin a “war criminal” weeks ago, earning criticism from various quarters, following earlier reports of Russian attacks on Ukrainian civilians in Mariupol and beyond. Why, then, all the renewed fretting about a statement that at some level seems simply to summarize a moral truth that tens of millions of people around the world already find apparent?
Joe Biden, president, Vladimir Putin, Russia, Ukraine, War
Pearlstein, Deborah, "Should We Worry that the President Called Putin a “War Criminal” Out Loud?" (2022). Online Publications. 9.