By Jack Phillips
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the U.S. ambassador in Moscow and told him that President Joe Biden’s recent comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin have strained ties to “the verge of breaking.”
Last week, Biden branded the Russian leader as a “war criminal” amid the invasion of Ukraine, drawing condemnation from the Foreign Ministry on Monday. Several other White House officials, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, used similar rhetoric over the past weekend.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry summoned the ambassador, John Sullivan, and told him that “such statements from the American president, unworthy of a statesman of such high rank, put Russian–American relations on the verge of breaking,” according to a translated statement.
It also warned that “hostile actions taken against Russia will meet decisive and firm pushback,” the statement continued. At the same time, the ministry told Sullivan that it requires “guarantees” that Russian embassies and consulates in the United States would “function smoothly.”
European Union countries on Monday also accused the Russian armed forces of committing war crimes in Ukraine, but they appeared unlikely to impose new sanctions on Moscow despite a clamor across Europe for those responsible for attacks on civilians to be held to account.
The International Criminal Court in the Netherlands said it is gathering evidence about any possible war crimes in Ukraine, but Russia—like the United States—doesn’t recognize the tribunal’s jurisdiction.
International sanctions have cut off Russia from the world’s financial system. However, Europe, which is the country’s main energy buyer, has made an exception for Russian gas and oil.
Meanwhile, large international corporations have said they will not do business inside Russia and will not make any new investments, citing the conflict.
Earlier in the day, Ukrainian officials rejected Russia’s calls for troops inside the besieged city of Mariupol to lay down their arms and surrender. The Russian Ministry of Defense said authorities in Mariupol could face a military tribunal if they sided with Ukrainian nationalist forces, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
“There can be no talk of any surrender, laying down of arms,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk told news outlet Ukrainian Pravda.
Nearly 3.4 million have been forced to flee Ukraine since Feb. 24, according to the United Nations. The U.N. has confirmed over 900 civilian deaths but said the actual toll is probably much higher. Estimates of Russian deaths vary.
The Epoch Times has contacted the U.S. State Department for comment.
The Assocaited Press contributed to this report.