President Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” on Wednesday, marking a shift in the administration’s rhetoric over the war in Ukraine.
“He is a war criminal,” Mr. Biden said of Mr. Putin in response to a reporter’s question as he left an event at the White House.
Mr. Biden had previously condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but has stopped short of saying whether Moscow had committed war crimes in the conflict.
When asked about the escalation in rhetoric, White House press secretary Jen Psaki simply said Mr. Biden was answering a direct question.
“We’ve all seen barbaric acts, horrific acts by a foreign dictator in a country that is threatening and taking the lives of civilians impacting hospitals, women who are pregnant, journalists, and others,” she said.
On Tuesday, the Senate passed a nonbinding resolution supporting a war crimes investigation of Mr. Putin over his attack on Ukraine.
Vice President Kamala Harris also expressed support for accusations that Russia has committed war crimes during its Ukraine invasion.
“We have been clear that any intentional attack or targeting of civilians is a war crime. Period,” she said while in Europe.