President Joe Biden called Vladimir Putin a war criminal for the first time after announcing an $800million military package to be sent to Ukraine and watching Volodymyr Zelensky urge him to step up and be the ‘leader of peace’.
Biden said ‘I think he is a war criminal’ when asked by reporters following an event on Wednesday afternoon.
It came after he provided a detailed laundry list at the White House Wednesday of a new tranche of $800 million in deadly arms the U.S. is providing to Ukraine as it it continues to fight against Russia’s invasion.
Moscow’s autocratic leader, meanwhile, sent a chilling warning to the West on Wednesday that its ‘attempts to have global dominance’ were coming to an end.
Biden spoke hours after Zelensky’s pleaded for more assistance.
The president acknowledged Zelensky’s ‘significant speech’ that showed Ukraine’s ‘remarkable courage in the face of brutal aggression,’ before turning to the contents of the package.
Facing pressure from members of both parties to do more, Biden cast Ukraine’s struggle in broad strokes. ‘It’s about freedom. It’s about the right of people to determine their own future. It’s about making sure that Ukraine will never be a victory for Putin,’ he said of the Russian president.
‘We’re going to give Ukraine the arms to fight and defend themselves through all the difficult days ahead,’ Biden pledged, as he faces pressure from Congress and from Zelensky to provide Ukraine with a means to defend itself.
He also spoke in unusual detail about the latest package of aid, which brings U.S. military assistance to $1 billion just this week.
It includes 800 anti-aircraft systems, 9,000 anti-armor systems, portable ‘high accuracy’ shoulder mounted missiles, and 7,000 small arms, plus machine guns, shotguns, and grenade launchers.
He said the package would include drones, ‘which demonstrates our commitment to sending our most cutting-edge systems to Ukraine for its defense.’ He didn’t specify if he meant the latest kamikaze killer drones that the administration had been considering.
Biden said the package included ‘additional longer range anti-aircraft systems,’ which he described as coming at Zelensky’s request.
One thing Biden didn’t mention and didn’t want to talk about were MiG fighter jets Zelensky is pleading for.
The administration scuttled a plan to have Poland transfer the jets to the U.S. for transfer.
When signing a document directing the transfer, Biden wouldn’t comment when asked about the jets.
A number of lawmakers, including Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Wednesday, have called on Biden to provide the planes, despite the administration’s concern it could lead to escalation.
‘This could be a long and difficult battle,’ Biden predicted, as the invasion approached the end of its third week.
He denounced ‘Putin’s immoral and unethical attacks,’ and said the world was ‘united in our abhorrence of Putin’s depraved onslaught.’
Biden also cited international efforts to put pressure on Russia’s ‘crumbling’ economy, while ‘isolating Putin’ on the global stage. Zelensky also urged more action on that front, urging sanctions not only on Putin but on cronies deep within his government.
‘That’s our goal. Make Putin pay the price, weaken his position, while strengthening the hand of the Ukrainians on the battlefield and at the negotiating table. Together with our allies and partners, we’re going to stay the course. and we’re going to to push for to push for and end this tragic and unnecessary war,’ Biden said, while flanked by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
Biden spoke at the White House shortly after Zelensky addressed the Congress in the first virtual address.
‘I need to protect our skies. I need your help, which means the same you feel when you hear I have a dream,’ he said.
‘We need you right now,’ Zelensky said, adding: ‘I call on you to do more.’
Biden provided details on the deadly military equipment the U.S. was providing, which follows previous aid packages. He was joined by Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley
Biden wouldn’t comment on a shouted question about providing Ukraine with jet fighters it is seeking
On Tuesday Biden signed a $13.6 billion package into law that provides military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
His speech followed reports the administration was considering providing U.S.-made kamikaze ‘Switchblade’ killer drones to Ukraine.
The small, lightweight and comparatively cheap ‘kamikaze’ weapons, which are effectively remote-controlled bombs, come in two versions which have been designed to take out tanks or artillery positions.
They are believed to be the same missiles that killed Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani under Donald Trump’s administration in 2020.
U.S. military officials have noted the Ukrainians have been highly effective at using weapons to take out Russian tanks, trucks, and other armored vehicles.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a heartfelt plea for President Joe Biden and America to ‘be the leader of the world’ and help his country against Russian attacks in a speech where he appealed to U.S. heartstrings by comparing the crisis to the tragedies of 9/11 and Pearl Harbor and invoked Martin Luther King Jr. by saying: ‘I have a dream… I have a need’
Zelensky showed a video montage to Congress of the destruction and death in Ukraine (pictured), and said his country is facing a 9/11-like attack every day
Biden’s speech followed reports the administration was considering providing U.S.-made kamikaze ‘Switchblade’ killer drones to Ukraine
There have been reports of a rising death toll among Russian troops – as the staggering toll of civilian Ukrainian losses also rises.
The new aid package Biden just signs includes $6.5 billion to fund Pentagon troop deployments so the nation can bolster its presence in the region, plus $4 billion pays for humanitarian aid.
Although the aid package has been in the works for days, Biden set up his remarks to follow Zelensky’s.
Zelensky concluded his speech with a personal appeal to Biden.
‘I am addressing the President Biden. You are the leader of the nation, of your great nation. I wish you be the leader of the world. Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace,’ he said.
The two leaders spoke on a day when Russian President Vladimir Putin inveighed against ‘scum’ traitors and fifth columnists, after western officials have hoped openly that he might face an internal schism.
‘I do not judge those with villas in Miami or the French Riviera. Or who can’t get by without oysters or foie gras or so-called ‘gender freedoms,’ Putin said in a TV address. ‘The problem is they mentally exist there, and not here, with our people, with Russia,’ he said.
‘The West will try to bet on the so-called fifth column, on traitors… to divide our society.. to provoke civil confrontation… to strive to achieve its aim. And there is one aim – the destruction of Russia,’ he claimed.
First published in Daily Mail (UK)