Biden calls Putin a 'war criminal'

After initially responding no, moments later Biden said he believes Putin is a war criminal.

Updated: March 16, 2022 - 4:02pm

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President Joe Biden on Wednesday called Russian President Vladimir Putin a "war criminal" for the first time publicly, three weeks after Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine started.

"I think he is a war criminal," Biden told reporters after an event at the White House.

Fox News' Jacqui Heinrich repeatedly asked Biden whether he considered Putin a war criminal. After initially responding no, moments later Biden said he believes Putin is a war criminal.

Biden walked away as a reporter asked him earlier during a separate event on Ukraine that day if he was "ready to call [Putin] a war criminal."

The president was hesitant to label Russia's actions as war crimes two weeks ago.

"We are following it very closely. It's early to say that," Biden said to reporters earlier this month. The war has escalated since then and more than 3 million people have fled Ukraine as Russia continues its violent attack.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended Biden's remarks on Wednesday.

"The President's remarks speak for themselves," Psaki said later, adding that Biden was "speaking from the heart."

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