Vladimir Putin, pushing 70 years of age, sees himself in traditionally macho terms, to the point of vanity. He poses topless atop virile white stallions, has discreet work done to preserve his facial features, and openly disdains effete oligarchs who cannot subsist without oysters, foie gras and “gender freedoms”.
For such a hard man who goes on rants about “scum traitors” and is dismissive about his critics as “midges” who must be spat out, he seems unduly bothered about being called a “war criminal” by Joe Biden. The label is “unforgiving” and “unacceptable” to the Kremlin, in the way that bombing a maternity hospital, presumably, is not.
The world does not need to look very hard for the sad evidence of Russian war crimes. Russia has used cluster bombs, attacked schools, hospitals, blocks of flats, food depots, turned off water supplies and cut electricity. Thermobaric bombs literally take the breath out of the lungs of their victims. Civilians are not collateral damage in this war, but targets.
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