White House warns Putin's invasion of Ukraine could be 'protracted'

Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan warns Putin’s invasion of Ukraine could be ‘protracted’, Russian forces are ‘retreating’ to focus on Donbass and Bucha and stops short of calling the atrocities a genocide

  • President Joe Biden’s national security adviser warned that Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine would be ‘protracted’
  • ‘The next stage of this conflict may very well be protracted, we should be under no illusions that Russia will adjust its tactics,’ Jake Sullivan said  
  • Sullivan warned that Russia was ‘revising its war games’ as invasion stalls 
  • Biden called for a war crimes trial against Putin for actions of Russian soldiers in Bucha, Ukraine
  • ‘He is a war criminal,’ Biden told reporters of Putin. ‘We have to gather all the details so this can be actual have a war crime trial. This guy is brutal’ 
  • Biden’s comments came after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Bucha and called it ‘genocide’ 
  • Mass graves uncovered in Bucha, city to the west of Kyiv which Russian forces retreated from at the weekend 
  • One containing the bodies of at least 57 civilians was uncovered in the ground of a church in the city centre 
  • Satellite images reveal pit was dug some time before March 31, as Putin’s men were still in control of the area 

President Joe Biden’s national security adviser warned on Monday that Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine would be ‘protracted’ but he stopped short of calling atrocities in Bucha a genocide.

Jake Sullivan warned that Russia was ‘revising its war games’ as its invasion of the Ukraine continued to stall. He said the United States predicted that the Russian forces would move to Eastern Ukraine to focus on Donbass and Bucha. 

‘The next stage of this conflict may very well be protracted, we should be under no illusions that Russia will adjust its tactics, which have included and will likely continue to include wanted and brazen attacks on civilian targets,’ he warned.

‘What I’m saying when I say protracted is that it may not be just a matter of a few more weeks before all is said and done,’ he noted.

Sullivan also said the Biden administration is ‘working around the clock’ to get assistance to the Ukraine, including laser guided rocket systems, Puma unmanned aerial systems, armored high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles, and more. 

He also echoed earlier comments from President Joe Biden and refused to call the atrocities in Bucha, Ukraine, a ‘genocide.’  

‘It’s not just that we sit around and debate terms and ultimately decide to apply a turn based against static circumstances,’ he said when asked how the administration made such a determination.

‘We watch as things unfold we gather evidence, we continue to develop facts. And as we gathered evidence, and as we got the facts together, we ultimately came to the conclusion that war crimes were committed,’  he added.

President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned that Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine would be ‘protracted’

Meanwhile, Biden on Monday called for a war crimes trial against Russian President Vladimir Putin and said more sanctions were in the works following the report of atrocities in Bucha, Ukraine.

‘He is a war criminal,’ Biden told reporters of Putin. ‘But we have to gather the information. We have to continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to continue to fight and we have to get all the detail so this could be – actual have a war crimes trial. This guy is brutal and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous and everyone’s seen it.’

He added he is ‘seeking more sanctions’ but declined to detail what those would be. The U.S. has implemented harsh financial penalities on Russian officials, banks and businesses after its invasion of the Ukraine. 

‘He should be held accountable,’ Biden said of Putin. 

The president also said he didn’t think what happened in Bucha, Ukraine, was genocide but called it a ‘war crime.’ 

He has previously called Putin a war criminal but this was the first time he has called for the Russian president to face legal consequences.  His comments echo those of European leaders, who are calling for harsher sanctions against Russia after mass graves were found in the town near Kyiv, after Russian soldiers departed the area.

But Biden didn’t go as far in his remarks as Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, who called the Russian actions ‘genocide’ after visiting Bucha. 

‘This is genocide. The elimination of the whole nation and the people,’ Zelensky said. He has also called for tougher sanctions. 

President Joe Biden called for a war crimes trial against Russian President Vladimir Putin for actions of Russian soldiers in Bucha, Ukraine

A satellite image taken on March 31 shows the mass grave – a 45ft-long pit – dug behind the Church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho All Saints in Bucha, during the time that Russian forces were in control of the region

Ukraine’s prosecutor-general said the bodies of 410 civilians, many with bound hands and close-range gunshot wounds, have been recovered from towns surrounding Kyiv after last week’s withdrawal of Russian troops. 

A mass grave containing the bodies of at least 20 civilians including a mayor and her family has been uncovered near the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in just the latest evidence of Russian war crimes. 

The pit was uncovered in woodland near the town of Motyzhyn, around 20 miles west of the city of Bucha where another mass grave has been found, and contains the bodies of local mayor Olga Sukhenko who was buried along with her husband and son, according to Ukraine’s former ambassador to Austria Olexander Scherba.

European Commission Presient Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, tweeted Monday that he European Union will send investigators to Ukraine to help the local prosecutor general ‘document war crimes.

The UK, France and Germany, along with the NATO Secretary General, on Sunday night called for an international probe to be opened into allegations of Russian ‘war crimes’. Meanwhile, Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas declared: ‘It’s not a battlefield, it’s a crime scene’ in reference to the horrific images. 

And the United States and its allies will seek to suspend Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council, according to Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

‘The images out of Bucha and devastation across Ukraine require us now to match our words with action,’ she said. 

The U.S. and more than 40 other countries are working to nvestigate possible violations and abuses, after the passage of a resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council to establish a commission of inquiry. 

Zelensky, meanwhile, appeared overwhelmed at seeing the carnage in the town, admitting he finds ‘it very difficult to talk when you see what they’ve done here’. 

On the streets of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, the bodies of civilians have been found scattered, many with bound hands, close-range gunshot wounds and signs of torture, after Russian forces retreated from the area.

Ukraine and Western leaders have accused Russia of carrying out the massacre of civilians and dumping their bodies in mass graves.  

Zelensky today said it had become harder for Ukraine to negotiate with Russia since Kyiv became aware of the scale of alleged atrocities carried out by Russian troops in Ukraine.

‘These are war crimes and will be recognised by the world as genocide,’ Zelensky said, wearing body armour and surrounded by military personnel.

‘It’s very difficult to talk when you see what they’ve done here,’ he said. ‘The longer the Russian Federation drags out the meeting process, the worse it is for them and for this situation and for this war.’

‘We know of thousands of people killed and tortured, with severed limbs, raped women and murdered children,’ he said, adding that in Bucha and other towns in the Kyiv region ‘dead people have been found in barrels, basements, strangled, tortured.


A visibly emotional Volodymyr Zelensky today stood motionless as he surveyed the scene of utter devastation he encountered in the town of Bucha, with dozens of bodies shot at close range laying on the empty streets

The Ukrainian President appeared overwhelmed at seeing the carnage in the town, admitting he finds ‘it very difficult to talk when you see what they’ve done here’

A Ukrainian policeman walks by a pit in the village of Motyzhyn, Ukraine, Sunday, April 3, 2022 where the bodies of the mayor of the village, Olga Sukhenko, her husband and son and that of a man believed to be a Ukrainian serviceman, who was not yet identified, lie

Dead bodies litter the streets near Bucha, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, after Russian forces withdrew from the region – leaving evidence of ‘war crimes’ in their wake

A mass grave was discovered in the grounds of the Church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho All Saints in Bucha, containing the bodies of dozens of civilians

President Biden again called Russian President Vladimir Putin (above left) a war criminal

Footage released by the Ukrainian military showed what appeared to be a ‘torture chamber’ in a building used as a barracks by Russian troops in Bucha. The bodies of civilians were lined up against a wall in the basement, kneeling, having been killed. At least one had been shot through the knee before being killed, the military said.

Civilian survivors said some bodies left on the streets had been run over by Russian tanks and ‘squashed like animal skin rugs’. Others reported seeing soldiers shoot dead elderly civilians in front of their relatives.  

Additionally, Putin’s invasion has suffered another devastating blow after his force’s death toll rose to 18,300, according to Kyiv’s estimates today.

Russia has only admitted 1,351 of its troops have died fighting in Ukraine since Putin invaded on February 24, a fraction of the figure estimated by Ukraine’s armed forces.

In a further blow to Putin’s war, Ukrainian forces have also retaken some towns in the northern Chernihiv region, whilst Russian forces no longer occupied any areas in the Sumy region, in Ukraine’s northeast. 

Ukrainian soldiers also blitzed a Russian military convoy in an effort to disrupt deliveries of fuel and supplies to Putin’s troops on the frontline, with video showing a military tanker being hit by what appears to be a rocket before bursting into flames. 

But Russian attacks on civilian areas have continued, with eight people killed and 34 wounded after shelling hit the southern Ukrainian cities of Mykolaiv and Ochakiv on Sunday, prosecutors in Kyiv said.    

And Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov rejected the allegations of Russian troops killing civilians in Bucha, describing the scenes outside Kyiv as a ‘stage-managed anti-Russian provocation.’ 

Meanwhile British Prime Minister Boris Johnson led world leaders in condemning the violence at the weekend, pledging to send funding and specialist investigators to the International Criminal Court at The Hague to compile evidence for a war crimes tribunal. 

‘We will not rest until justice is served,’ he vowed, before a spokesman for the PM added: ‘It’s clear that Putin crossed the threshold of barbarism some time ago.’

‘It’s certainly evidence that Putin’s army is committing war crimes,’ the spokesman said, adding that the Government now wants ‘to look beyond what we have already provided’ in terms of fresh arms shipments to Ukraine.  

‘Whatever equipment we send will obviously allow Ukraine to defend itself. We are aware of the requests from the Ukrainians for equipment to defend themselves from ships and we are looking into what we can do,’ he said.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called Russia’s actions ‘genocide.’ 

Morawiecki said the allegations ‘must be properly documented and judged,’ and he called ‘to establish an international commission composed of specialists.’ 

French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that there is ‘clear evidence of war crimes’ in Bucha that demand new measures. ‘I’m in favour of a new round of sanctions and in particular on coal and petrol. We need to act,’ he said on France-Inter radio.

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