Diplomatic sources in Moscow Monday said whatever remained of ties between Russia and the United States was on the verge of collapse after Washington's Ambassador John Sullivan was handed a demarche and a note of protest in view of President Joseph Biden's remarks calling Russian leader Vladimir Putin a war criminal amid the invasion of Ukraine.
On March 21, US Ambassador John Sullivan was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry where he was issued a demarche and handed a note of protest in connection with the recent unacceptable remarks by the head of the White House Joe Biden regarding the president of Russia, the ministry said in a statement.
Russian authorities insisted such statements by the US president, which are unworthy of a statesman of such a high rank, bring Russian-US relations to the brink of breaking off.
We have warned that hostile actions taken against Russia will receive a decisive and firm rebuff, Moscow's document went on.
Biden last week said Putin was a “war criminal” for launching an all-out invasion of Ukraine, which has caused numerous deaths and forced millions of people to flee their homes.
The US Department of State later Monday that a meeting had taken place between Sullivan and the Russian government, during which Sullivan demanded that Moscow follow international law and called for consular access to US citizens detained in Russia.
Department of State spokesman Ned Price told reporters it is “completely unacceptable” that the US has been denied consular access to detained citizens.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week he too believed Russian forces had committed war crimes in Ukraine and explained Department of State experts were documenting potential war crimes in Ukraine to help international efforts towards accountability.
“Intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime. After all the destruction of the past three weeks, I find it difficult to conclude that the Russians are doing otherwise,” he told reporters.
On Monday, Biden held a call with President Emmanuel Macron of France, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom to discuss their coordinated responses to the Russian invasion.
European Union officials have also dubbed Russia’s attacks on the Ukrainian port of Mariupol “a massive war crime,” with hundreds of thousands of residents trapped with little if any access to food, water, and electricity. “What’s happening now in Mariupol is a massive war crime, destroying everything, bombarding and killing everybody,” the Spaniard Josep Borrell (High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) said at the start of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock replied: “The courts will have to decide, but for me, these are clearly and unequivocally war crimes,” she said.
On the other hand, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS these remarks by Biden were unacceptable and unforgivable.