US President Joe Biden on Saturday delivered a harsh verdict on the Russian leader whose unprovoked war forced millions of Ukrainians from their homes after meeting with refugees who he said were from the besieged city of Mariupol.
Asked what meeting the Ukrainian refugees made him think of what Russian president Vladimir Putin had done to them, Mr Biden replied: “He’s a butcher”.
Mr Biden’s encounter with refugees took place at PGE Narodowy Stadium in Warsaw, which has been converted into a massive reception center and shelter for many of the Ukrainians who’ve fled over the Polish border in the month since Mr Putin launched his invasion of their country.
Mr Biden told one refugee family the US would be sending more Javelin anti-tank missiles and other weapons to help Ukrainian forces drive out the invaders.
One of the refugees told him they were from Mariupol, which they said was being “erased from the face of the earth” by Russian forces.
The refugee, a mother, said he was in Poland with his young daughter while her husband and son were still in Ukraine to fight.
“We’re just afraid he’s going to keep moving,” she said of Mr Putin. “We Ukrainian mothers are ready to strangle him with our bare hands if we only knew where he was hiding”.
Mr Biden then picked up the refugee’s young daughter, who, through a translator, told him she had been “stuck in the basement” in Mariupol “for the longest time”.
He told the young girl she was “brave, brave, brave”.
“I’ve been to a lot of awful places like this — a lot of refugee camps in my life, and what I’m always surprised by is the depth and strength to the human spirit,” Mr Biden said.
“I mean it sincerely — it’s incredible — see all those little children? They just want a hug, just want to say ‘thanks’”.