President Joe Biden called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a genocide, saying “Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being a Ukrainian.”
On Tuesday, in remarks during a trip to Iowa, the president spoke about rising gas and other consumer prices amid Russia’s war on Ukraine. “Your family budget, your ability to fill up your tank, none of this should hinge on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide a half a world away,” he said, according to CNN’s DJ Judd.
Biden later doubled down on his comments in remarks to reporters, saying lawyers would decide whether Russia’s actions meet the international definition of genocide, “but it sure seems that way to me.”
“Yes, I called it genocide — it’s become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being a Ukrainian,” he added.
Previously, the president had condemned the Kremlin’s attacks on Ukraine by saying Putin was a “war criminal” and should face a trial for war crimes.
The United Nations defines genocide as killing or causing serious harm to a group — national, ethnic, racial or religious — with the intent to destroy the group in whole or in part.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who had previously described Russia’s actions as genocide, responded to Biden’s remarks on Twitter: “Calling things by their names is essential to stand up to evil.” He added that Ukrainians “urgently need more heavy weapons to prevent further Russian atrocities.”
Since Russia began its attack on Ukraine in late February, the U.N. has tracked nearly 2,000 deaths and over 2,500 injuries, noting the actual numbers are likely “considerably higher,” with reports of mass deaths in some areas, including Mariupol, still to be confirmed. Mariupol’s mayor said this week that over 10,000 civilians in his city have died in Russian attacks.
Over 4 million Ukrainians have fled their country due to the violence.
Earlier this week, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said Russia’s brutal attack “clearly is genocide.”