President Biden said Tuesday Russia's war in Ukraine amounted to "genocide," accusing Vladimir Putin of trying to "wipe out the idea of even being a Ukrainian." "Yes, I called it genocide," he told reporters in Iowa shortly before boarding Air Force One to return to Washington. "It’s become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being a Ukrainian." At an earlier event in Menlo, Iowa, addressing spiking energy prices resulting from the war, Biden had implied that he thought Putin was carrying out genocide against Ukraine, but offered no details, the AP reports. Neither he nor his administration announced new consequences for Russia or assistance to Ukraine following Biden's public assessment.
Biden's comments drew praise from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has encouraged Western leaders to use the term to describe Russia's invasion of his country. "True words of a true leader @POTUS," he tweeted. "Calling things by their names is essential to stand up to evil. We are grateful for US assistance provided so far and we urgently need more heavy weapons to prevent further Russian atrocities." Biden said it would be up to lawyers to decide if Russia's conduct met the international standard for genocide, as Ukrainian officials have claimed, but said “it sure seems that way to me.”
"More evidence is coming out literally of the horrible things that the Russians have done in Ukraine, and we’re only going to learn more and more about the devastation and let the lawyers decide internationally whether or not it qualifies,” he said. Just last week, Biden said he did not believe Russia's actions amounted to genocide, only that they constituted "war crimes." Earlier Tuesday, Putin described the goals of Russia's invasion of Ukraine as "clear and noble" and vowed that the offensive could continue "until its full completion and the fulfillment of the tasks that have been set." (Horrific stories are emerging from Bucha and other towns formerly occupied by Russian forces.)