Putin should be recognised as war criminal, Ukrainian defence minister tells EU lawmakers

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BRUSSELS, March 17 (Reuters) – Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov told European Union lawmakers on Wednesday that they should recognise Russian President Vladimir Putin as a war criminal after Russia invaded Ukraine.

“I am appealing to all European parliamentary members to recognise that Putin is a war criminal, ” Reznikov said via video link. He cited examples such as what he said was a Russian airstrike on a theatre on Wednesday where he said 1,200 women and children were sheltering.

A banner depicting Vladimir Putin, mocked as Adolf Hitler, hangs on a tenement house at Freedom Square in Poznan, west-central Poland, . EPA-EFE/Jakub Kaczmarczyk

U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday called Russian leader Vladimir Putin a war criminal in comments the Kremlin said were “unforgivable”. Russia has denied targeting civilians and the defence ministry in Moscow said on Wednesday it had not attacked the theatre. 

The EU has yet to go as far as Biden. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on March 10 said the bombing of a maternity hospital in southern Ukraine may have been a war crime.

Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov told European lawmakers on Wednesday that Russia is using Belarus as a logistical hub for its war against Ukraine and repeated calls for a no-fly zone over Ukraine to protect the country.

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