Fox reporter, Jacqui Heinrich, recently asked President Joe Biden if he thought Vladimir Putin was a war criminal. The President initially shrugged off the question, but then made a point to circle back around and give a more definitive answer — we’re not sure who gave him the order. He clarified that he heard the question correctly and then answered in the affirmative, saying, “Oh, I think he is a war criminal.”
Some media outlets reported that Biden personalized the conflict with his remark. Labeling Putin as a war criminal would indicate a shift in policy.
The term “war criminal”is a heavy accusation to make against a world leader, implying harsh punishments and narrowing opportunities to find a diplomatic solution to differences.
Psaki claimed that the remark was from the President’s ‘heart’ and not the official position of the White House or the State Department.
Regardless of what name Biden attaches to Putin, the position of the United States has been clear since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Sanctions, targeting the personal wealth of Russian oligarchs and supplying lethal aid to the embattled nation has left no doubt that the United States wholeheartedly supports Ukraine in the conflict.
There has been a drumbeat from both sides of the aisle for a no-fly zone over Ukraine. Most Americans support a no-fly zone until they understand that it would mean direct kinetic action by the United States against Russia. Biden has firmly come out against such an action, and with good reason. We have never had a direct military confrontation with a nuclear peer. There is no way to know how such a conflict would play out. For all of Biden’s mistakes, his hesitation on a no-fly zone is in the best interest of the United States and its citizens.