Psaki talks about ‘a process’ when pressed on Biden’s reluctance to acknowledge Putin ‘war crimes’

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was grilled on Thursday about President Biden’s reluctance to characterize Russia’s atrocities as “war crimes,” saying that there is “a process” in place to make such a determination.

Biden was asked about Russia committing war crimes in Ukraine on Wednesday before boarding Marine One and said, “We are following it very closely. It’s early to say that.” But when asked if Russian forces were intentionally targeting civilian areas, the president replied, “It’s clear they are.”

Wall Street Journal White House correspondent Sabrina Siddiqui brought the topic up at the White House press briefing, “President Zelenskyy has said Russia’s actions clearly constitute a war crime. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said that Russia’s targeting of civilians fully qualifies as a war crime. The president wouldn’t go that far when he was asked yesterday. Why has he been reluctant to label Russia’s actions a war crime?”

“Well, there is a process and we have stood up a process internally, an internal team, to assess and look at and evaluate evidence of what we’re seeing happen on the ground,” Psaki replied.

“That is a standard part of our process in the U.S. government. I would note that we work very closely with our international partners, and we will provide any information that we surface through that process,” the president’s spokesperson said. “You know, I think we’ve seen on the ground that reports of a range of barbaric tactics, reports of targeting civilians. That’s all factors that we look at. And again, that process that has been stood up would provide any information to the ICC or any other international body taking a look at this.”

On Thursday, Russian forces shelled the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant near the city of Enerhodar, Ukraine, risking a nuclear disaster greater than Chernobyl as fire broke out at the plant. Putin’s invading army would ultimately take control of the facility and the fires were reportedly extinguished.

The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv tweeted on Friday, “It is a war crime to attack a nuclear power plant. Putin’s shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear plant takes his reign of terror one step further.”

The hashtags #TheHague #Zaporizhzhia and #StandwithUkraine were included.

Retired Gen. Jack Keane, now a Fox News strategic analyst, described the attack as “insanity,” warning that Putin will stop at nothing to take over Ukraine.

“It’s absolute insanity when it comes down to it. I mean, their intent, likely, is they want to take these nuclear power plants so they can shut the power off in the major cities and the rural areas,” he said during an appearance on Jesse Watters Primetime. “There are 15 nuclear power plants in Ukraine at four different sites. But to conduct combat operations in and around nuclear power plants with the obvious safety issues that could take place would not only hurt and harm the Ukrainian people, but it would hurt and harm the Russians. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Tom Tillison


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