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Security aid is continuing to flow into Ukraine unabated, with another shipment that arrived in the last 24 hours, a senior US defense official said Monday, while adding that the alleged atrocities committed by Russian forces against civilians in Bucha should be investigated as “war crimes .”
“Everything we’re doing in respect to Ukraine is being expedited – everything,” a senior Defense official told reporters Monday, while adding that US officials are “not sure exactly what the long-range goal is for Mr. Putin.”
The Biden administration announced $300 million in security assistance and lethal aid on Friday, which is separate from the $800 million previously authorized. The additional aid is expected to be used to buy weapons from defense contractors, an official said.
“We are aggressively going after this,” the official added.
Officials said Monday that in the last 24 hours the US has coordinated security aid packages from half a dozen other countries to Ukraine.
Officials also said there have been shipments of weapons purchased from the original $800 million in military assistance Biden announced last month, all within the last 24 hours.
“We are moving as fast as we can,” an official said.
Meanwhile, senior Defense officials said there is clear evidence that Russia has committed war crimes, and called for further investigation of the attacks on civilians.
Ukrainian officials said the bodies of 410 civilians were found in Kyiv-area towns and cities that were recently retrieved from Russian forces. In Bucha, alone, more than 100 civilians were found buried in mass graves.
WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES
“It’s sickening,” an official said. “It’s disgusting.”
The official added: “We believe it should be added to the allegations of war crimes and investigated.”
The comments and additional aid come after residents of Bucha have given harrowing accounts of how Russian troops shot and killed civilians without any apparent reason.
Russia is facing a rapidly escalating international outcry as more horrific images and stories are emerging of alleged atrocities being committed against Ukrainian civilians.
President Biden, on Monday, called for an “actual war crime trial” as evidence of atrocities committed against Ukrainian civilians in Bucha emerged over the weekend, but denied that the attacks amounted to a “genocide,” while, again, labeling Russian President Vladimir Putin has “war criminal.”
BIDEN CALLS FOR UKRAINE WAR CRIMES TRIAL, DENIES ‘GENOCIDE’ IN BUCHA
“He is a war criminal,” Biden said of Putin Monday morning upon returning to Washington, DC, vowing that the United States will “continue to provide Ukraine with weapons they need to continue to fight.”
The president added that Putin “should be held accountable,” and said the United States needs to “get all the detail so this can be an actual war crime trial.”
“This guy is brutal,” Biden said. “What is happening in Bucha is outrageous and everyone has seen it – I think it is a war crime.”
When asked about additional sanctions, Biden said he is “seeking more sanctions” against Russia and is “going to continue to add sanctions.”
Over the weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, said the attacks amounted to a “genocide.”
When asked Monday if he agreed with Zelenskyy’s characterization of a “genocide,” Biden replied: “No, I think it is a war crime.”
Genocide is a type of war crime under international law.
WORLD LEADERS REACT TO BUCHA, UKRAINE MASSACRE: ‘GENOCIDE’, ‘DESPICABLE’, ‘DREADFUL’
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has documented evidence of summary executions, unlawful violence and threats against civilians, and repeated rapes between Feb. 27 and March 14. A report from the organization also implicates Russian soldiers in looting civilian property, including food, clothing and firewood.
Per international humanitarian law, belligerent armed forces are responsible for war crimes if they are found to have committed the willful killing, rape, torture or other inhuman type of treatment of captured civilians and combatants who are in custody.
Russian troops had rolled into Bucha in the early days of the invasion and stayed until March 30.
Russia is denying anything to do with the widespread killing of Ukrainian civilians, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying Monday that “we categorically reject the accusations.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed in a statement that fresh photos and videos of the dead bodies “have been stage managed by the Kyiv regime for the Western media.”
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And Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described the attacks as “fake.”
“The other day another fake (news) attack was undertaken in the town of Bucha in the Kyiv region, after the Russian military had left according to the plans and agreements,” Lavrov said. “Several days later, a fake (video) was staged that is now is being spread through all media channels and social media by the Ukrainian representatives and their Western patrons.”