Biden stood by calling Russian actions in Ukraine a genocide, doubling down on a term rarely used in US political history
- Biden on Tuesday described Russian atrocities in
Ukraineas a " genocide."
- He later doubled down on his remarks, saying Putin's forces were trying to "wipe out the idea of being Ukrainian."
Earlier that day, Biden told a speech in Iowa that US gas prices should not "hinge on whether a dictator declares war or commits genocide half a world away."
US presidents have historically shied away from using the term "genocide," a term loaded with political and possibly legal significance.
Previously, Biden had restricted himself to describing reports of Russian atrocities in Ukraine as "war crimes," but when asked again about his speech later on Tuesday, Biden said he would not be retracting them.
"Yes, I called it genocide. It has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being — being able to be Ukrainian," he said. "The evidence is mounting."
The president then explained that the decision of whether Russian actions qualified as "genocide" would ultimately be left up to the international courts, "but it sure seems that way to me."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised Biden's remarks, saying they were "true words of a true leader."
Officials from the International Criminal Court in The Hague are investigating reports of Russian attacks on civilians in Ukraine.
Under the court's charter to prove genocide, prosecutors would have to demonstrate that acts were "committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group."
Two days before Biden's remarks, US national security advisor Jake Sullivan declined to call Russia's actions a "genocide," saying he wanted to wait for the State Department to conduct an investigation first.
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