The European Union’s top diplomat on Monday said Russia is guilty of “massive war crimes” in its siege of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, echoing the words of President Biden that have infuriated the Kremlin.
“What’s happening now in Mariupol is a massive war crime, destroying everything, bombarding and killing everybody,” Josep Borrell, the European Union foreign policy chief, told a gathering of the 27-nation bloc’s foreign ministers in Brussels Monday morning.
Mariupol has become a focus of the war as Russian forces attempt to capture their first significant city nearly a month into their invasion.
Ukrainian officials and local residents describe heavy shelling of civilian sites — including a theater and an art school being used by local children as a bomb shelter — and public buildings as Russian forces have issued an ultimatum for the surrounded city on the Sea of Azov to surrender .
Mr. Biden said last week he considers Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” for authorizing the invasion and the conduct of Russian troops, a remark that was immediately rejected by Mr. Putin’s aides.
Administration officials said Mr. Biden was “speaking from the heart” and not issuing a formal policy, but added that the US government was already working with private rights groups to document Russian military operations for a possible war crimes investigation down the road.