Biden Says Putin Committing ‘Genocide’ In Ukraine

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Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin is committing “genocide” in Ukraine.

The comment, made during remarks on inflation and infrastructure, marks the first time the administration has used such a term to describe actions by Russia inside Ukraine.

“Your family budget, your ability to fill up your tank, none of it should hinge on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide a half a world away,” the president said, slipping in the term mid-remarks in Iowa.

Biden doubled down on the classification afterwards, telling reporters that he meant it “because it’s become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out even the idea of being Ukrainian.”

“The evidence is mounting,” Biden said. “We’ll let the lawyers decide, internationally, whether or not it qualifies, but it sure seems that way to me.”


Prior to Biden’s “genocide” declaration, the administration shied away from using the term. Biden himself said April 4 that he did not believe atrocities unveiled in Bucha, Ukraine qualified as genocide, instead describing it as “a war crime.”

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also avoided the term, saying during a press briefing in April that the administration has “not yet seen a level of systematic deprivation of life of the Ukrainian people to rise to the level of genocide.”

“We have seen atrocities, we have seen war crimes,” Sullivan said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised Biden on Twitter after his comment, calling the American president “a true leader.”

“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,” Zelenskyy wrote.

The White House has not yet commented on the president’s remarks. Biden, throughout Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has repeatedly made comments that have sparked walk-backs or clarifications.

In March, the president declared Putin to be a “war criminal” – before the U.S. officially said that they’d determined war crimes have been committed by Russian forces.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki described Biden’s comment shortly afterwards as coming “from his heart.” (RELATED: Biden Declares Putin ‘Cannot Remain In Power,’ White House Quickly Walks It Back)