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Vladimir Putin has already crossed the “red line” with war crimes committed by his troops in Ukraine and should be dragged before the International Criminal Court to face justice, Boris Johnson said on Thursday.
Ahead of a meeting of Nato leaders in Brussels, the Prime Minister urged the West to tighten the vice around Mr Putin’s regime economically and militarily, including more pressure on Russia using its gold reserves.
Speaking to LBC Radio, Mr Johnson said: “He has already crossed a threshold of barbarism.
“People talk about new red lines for chemical, biological, tactical nuclear weapons..for me the red line already has been crossed.
“He is bombing indiscriminately civilian centres, he is causing huge numbers of casualties in wholly innocent populations.”
With horrifying reports of a string of atrocities carried out by Russian forces in Ukraine since the invasion started four weeks ago, the Prime Minister added: “It’s certainly true as Joe Biden has said that the Russian war machine is already guilty of war crimes.
“It’s right that Russia should now be called before the International Court of Justice and right that President Putin should appear before the International Criminal Court.
“There is no question that what they are doing are war crimes.”
He stressed evidence needed to be collected about Russian use of thermobaric weapons and “deliberate targeting” of civilians to later bring prosecutions.
Russia invades Ukraine - In pictures
Western nations were warning Mr Putin on Thursday that his country will pay “ruinous” costs for invading Ukraine, during an unprecedented one-day trio of Nato, G7 and EU summits that will be attended by US President Mr Biden.
The hectic day of summitry to maintain Western unity will kick off at Nato headquarters in Brussels, where the transatlantic defence alliance’s leaders will agree to ramp up military forces on Europe’s eastern flank.
Mr Johnson has announced a new British support package for Ukrainian forces, including 6,000 more missiles comprising anti-tank and high-explosive weaponry.
Alarmed by the prospect that Russia might escalate the war with its neighbour after a grinding month-long conflict, the 30 nations of NATO will also agree to send Kyiv equipment to defend against biological, chemical and nuclear attacks.
The resolve to punish Moscow with massive sanctions will be underlined by an emergency meeting of the G7 advanced economies.
Then, with a summit of the 27-nation European Union, countries representing more than half of the world’s gross domestic product will have met in one day.
“We must ensure that the decision to invade a sovereign independent country is understood to be a strategic failure that carries with it ruinous costs for Putin and Russia,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the EU parliament.
Russia’s assault on Ukraine has killed thousands and driven almost a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people from their homes, according to United Nations data, including more than 3.6 million who have fled the country.
Mr Putin says his forces are engaged in a “special military operation” to demilitarise Ukraine.
Ukraine and the West say Putin launched an unprovoked war of aggression.
“President Putin has made a big mistake,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said as he arrived at the meeting, pointing to the strength of Ukraine’s resistance and the unity of the West.
In this “most serious security crisis in a generation,” Mr Stoltenberg added, “as long as we stand together we are safe.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will address both the NATO and EU summits by video-conference.
He has pleaded, without success, for NATO to create a no-fly zone over Ukraine, but Western allies have imposed sweeping sanctions against Russia and provided weapons and aid worth billions of dollars for Ukraine’s defence.
Mr Zelensky is calling for street demonstrations around the world on Thursday to mark one month since Russia invaded Ukraine.
In his nightly video address, he said: “Come from your offices, your homes, your schools and universities, come in the name of peace, come with Ukrainian symbols to support Ukraine, to support freedom, to support life.”
Nato has sharply increased its presence on its eastern borders, with some 40,000 troops spread from the Baltic to the Black Sea.
Mr Stoltenberg said the leaders would discuss deploying four new combat units in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.
“I expect leaders will agree to strengthen Nato’s posture in all domains, with major increases in the eastern part of the alliance. On land, in the air and at sea,” he said.
Washington said Mr Biden and his European counterparts would announce new sanctions against Russia and measures to tighten existing sanctions.
However, EU diplomats played down expectations of major new sanctions.
Russia has been frozen out of world commerce to a degree never before visited on such a large economy. But the biggest loophole is an exception for its energy exports. Some EU member states are resisting calls to ban Russian oil and gas, as they rely heavily on them.
EU leaders are expected to agree at their two-day summit to jointly buy gas, as they seek to cut reliance on Russian fuels and build a buffer against supply shocks.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted: “If any EU country bows to Putin’s humiliating demands to pay for oil and gas in rubles, it will be like helping Ukraine with one hand and helping Russians kill Ukrainians with the other. I urge relevant countries to make a wise and responsible choice.
Brussels is also aiming to strike a deal with Mr Biden to secure additional US liquefied natural gas supplies for the next two winters.”
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said: “The consequences of this war on Europe’s security architecture will be far-reaching...and I am not just talking about security in military terms. But also energy security, and even food security are at stake.”