As Russia continues its military attack on Ukraine, US Vice President Joe Biden has stepped up his language, branding the conflict “genocide” and accusing Vladimir Putin of seeking to “wipe out the idea of even being Ukrainian.”
“Yes, I called it genocide,” he stated just before flying back to Washington on Air Force One. It’s become clearer & clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being a Ukrainian.”
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised the speech after encouraging Western leaders to use the term earlier.
Following the remark, however, the US President did not announce any fresh penalties against Russia.
The United Nations defines genocide as “acts committed with the intention to destroy, in whole or part by part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”
Following the discovery of hundreds of dead civilians in Bucha, a neighborhood of Kyiv, after Russian occupation, Biden accused Putin of being a “war criminal.”
Despite this, he has avoided using the term “genocide” until now because it has a legal definition. It will be up to lawyers to decide whether Russia’s actions meet the definition of genocide, but “it sure appears that way to me,” Biden said.
Only a week ago, Biden referred to Russia’s acts as “war crimes,” rather than genocide. During a trip to Europe in March, though, Biden was chastised for appearing to favor a Russian regime change, a drastic leap towards another nuclear-armed country. “For the love of God, this man cannot stay in power,” Biden said at the time.
“I was expressing the moral outrage that I felt toward this man,” he later defended his remarks. I wasn’t advocating for a policy shift.”