Biden: Russia war a ‘genocide,’ trying to ‘wipe out’ Ukraine

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Des Moines, Iowa (AP) — President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Russia’s war in Ukraine amounted to “genocide,” accusing President Vladimir Putin of trying to “kill the people who are Ukrainians.” idea”.

“Yes, I call it genocide,” he told reporters in Iowa shortly before boarding Air Force One and returning to Washington. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that Putin just wants to dispel even the idea of ​​being Ukrainian.”

At an earlier event in Menlo, Iowa, Biden suggested he thought Putin was carrying out a genocide against Ukraine, but offered no details, referring to the soaring energy prices caused by the war. Neither he nor his administration has announced new consequences for Russia or aid for Ukraine after Biden’s public assessment.

Biden’s remarks were praised by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has encouraged Western leaders to use the term to describe Russia’s invasion of his country.

“Truth from a true leader @POTUS,” he tweeted. “Calling your first name is critical to fighting evil. We are grateful for the assistance the United States has provided so far, and we desperately need more heavy weapons to prevent further Russian atrocities.”

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

U.S. leaders in the past have often shied away from formally declaring Russia’s bloody campaign in Ukraine a genocide, hesitant to trigger obligations under international conventions that require signatories to intervene after genocide is formally established. For example, this obligation was seen as preventing President Bill Clinton from declaring the killing of 800,000 Tutsi in 1994 by the Hutu in Rwanda as genocide.

Biden said it would be up to lawyers to decide whether Russia’s actions met international standards for what Ukrainian officials have claimed as genocide, but said “it does in my opinion.”

“With more and more evidence of the terrible things the Russians have done in Ukraine, we will only learn more and more about the destruction and let lawyers decide internationally whether it qualifies or not,” he said.

Just last week, Biden did not believe Russia’s actions constituted genocide, only that they constituted a “war crime.”

During a trip to Europe last month, Biden faced controversy for a nine-word statement that appeared to support regime change in Moscow, which would represent a dramatic shift from direct confrontation with another nuclear-armed state. “For God’s sake, this guy can’t stay in power,” Biden said.

A few days later, he clarified the comments, saying: “I express my moral outrage against this man. I’m not stating a policy change.”

Miller reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Ellen Knickmeyer contributed.

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