Biden: War with Russia is ‘genocide’, trying to ‘annihilate’ Ukraine

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — President Joe Biden has said Russia’s war in Ukraine amounts to “genocide,” accusing President Vladimir Putin of trying to “erase the very idea of ​​being Ukrainian.” .

“Yeah, I called it genocide,” he told reporters in Iowa on Tuesday shortly before boarding Air Force One to return to Washington. “It has become increasingly clear that Putin is simply trying to eliminate the very idea of ​​being Ukrainian.”

At an earlier event in Menlo, Iowa, addressing soaring energy prices resulting from the war, Biden hinted that he believed Putin was carrying out genocide against Ukraine, but did not gave no details. Neither he nor his administration announced any new consequences for Russia or aid for Ukraine following Biden’s public assessment.

Biden’s comments drew praise from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who had encouraged Western leaders to use the term to describe Russia’s invasion of his country.

“True words from a true leader @POTUS,” he tweeted. “Calling things by their proper name is essential to standing up to evil. We are grateful for the American assistance provided so far and urgently need more heavy weapons to prevent further Russian atrocities.

A United Nations treaty, to which the United States is a party, defines genocide as actions taken with “the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”

Former US leaders have often dodged the formal declaration of bloody campaigns such as Russia’s in Ukraine as genocide, hesitating to trigger an obligation that under international convention requires signatory countries to intervene once the genocide is formally identified. This obligation was seen as preventing President Bill Clinton from declaring the killing by Rwandan Hutus of 800,000 ethnic Tutsis in 1994 a genocide, for example.

Biden said it would be up to the lawyers to decide whether Russia’s conduct met the international standard for genocide, as Ukrainian officials have claimed, but said “it seems pretty sure to me.”

“More and more evidence is literally coming out of the horrible things the Russians did in Ukraine, and we’re only going to learn more and more about the devastation and let the lawyers decide internationally whether it qualifies or not,” he said. he declared.

As recently as last week, Biden did not believe Russia’s actions constituted genocide, merely that they were “war crimes.”

On a trip to Europe last month, Biden faced controversy for a nine-word statement ostensibly in favor of regime change in Moscow, which would have represented a sea change towards a direct confrontation with another nuclear-armed country. “For the love of God, this man can’t stay in power,” Biden said.

He clarified the comments a few days later, saying: “I was expressing the moral outrage I felt towards this man. I was not articulating a change in policy.

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Miller reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Ellen Knickmeyer contributed to this report.

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