Ukraine urges EU lawmakers to recognise Putin as ‘war criminal’
Ukraine’s defence minister on Thursday called on EU lawmakers to recognise Russian President as a “war criminal” and urged the bloc to step up arms supplies to fight Moscow’s forces.
The demand came after US President Joe Biden on Wednesday sparked Kremlin fury by dubbing the Russian leader a “war criminal” for his forces’ bombings of Ukrainian cities.
“It’s not simply a war. It’s state terror. The regular army of the aggressor is conscientiously annihilating the civil population,” Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov told EU legislators via videolink.
“I’m appealing to all European Parliamentary members to recognize that Putin is a war criminal, as has been done in the United States.”
Reznikov pointed to the ferocious assault on the southern port city of Mariupol and the bombing of a theatre, where authorities said some 1,200 women and children were sheltering.
He said over 400 schools, 110 hospitals and 1,000 residential blocks across Ukraine had been destroyed in the three weeks since Putin launched the invasion.
Ukrainian resistance and logistical problems have stalled Russia’s push for a lightning victory. Reznikov claimed more than 14,000 Russian soldiers had been killed.
The defiant minister insisted that Kyiv’s outgunned troops would eventually triumph over the Kremlin’s larger forces — but called on Europe to help supply more weapons.
“We will win. It’s a question only of the price which the Ukrainian people will pay,” Reznikov said.
“The Russians can be stopped, victory can be gained, but we need assistance.”
He called for more financial help “very quickly” to help Ukraine acquire a raft of hardware including jets, armoured vehicles, anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems.
The 27-nation EU has already stumped up 500 million euros ($550 million) to provide arms to Kyiv and there is a proposal to add an extra 500 million.
Reznikov also called on the EU to ratchet up sanctions on Russia and put pressure on companies that have not stopped doing business in the country.
He fiercely criticised the West’s refusal to intervene directly to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
“We will lose more and more lives and it will be more money European countries will pay later to help Ukraine rebuild,” he said.
“The longer you hesitate, the more it will be perceived by our children and grandchildren as a crime against Ukraine.”