The president of the United States, Joe Biden, has described this Tuesday the actions instigated by his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Ukraine of genocide, a term that until now the Administration he leads had avoided. “It is becoming increasingly clear that Putin only wants one thing, to eradicate the very possibility of being Ukrainian,” the president told reporters covering his visit to Menlo, Iowa. His Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, who has used the concept repeatedly, praised Biden’s words on the social network Twitter and reiterated his request to allies for more weapons to defend themselves.
The rhetorical escalation of the Biden Administration represents a further step in the accusations that Washington directs against Russia, to whose Army it had so far attributed the commission of war crimes in Ukraine. But global dismay over the mass killings of civilians echoes in the new speech from the White House. Specifically, the massacre of civilians at the Kramatorsk station, which caused more than 50 fatalities, a week after the appearance of dozens of handcuffed and executed bodies in Bucha.
Asked last Monday if Bucha’s executions seemed like genocide, the president then replied: “No, I think it’s a war crime.” That same day, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the administration had not yet classified the killings in Ukraine as genocide, while suggesting the need for a process to reach such a determination.
Biden’s statements today came as the Democrat underlined his Executive’s efforts to address inflation, generated in part by the high price of gasoline since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24. In the morning the inflation data for March had been released, with a new year-on-year record, 8.5%, the highest rate in four decades. “I am doing everything in my power through executive orders to reduce the price and address Putin’s price gouging,” he said, again pointing to his Russian peer as the cause of the upward pressure. “His family budget, his ability to fill the tank, none of that should depend on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide half a world away,” he said, addressing the audience. The warming of the US economy follows an upward trend that began last spring. The war in Ukraine, with the interruption of the supply of crude oil, has been the last straw, but also a political asset to wield in the face of the uncertain mid-term elections in November.
When asked by a journalist on Tuesday about whether there is sufficient evidence to classify the action of the Russian Army in Ukraine as genocide, Biden replied: “The evidence is increasing. It looks different than last week. More evidence is emerging, literally, of the horrible things the Russians have done in Ukraine. We will know more and more about the devastation and we will let the jurists decide internationally if it should be classified [de genocidio] or not, but the truth is that it seems that way to me”. To underline his denunciation, the democrat added the phrase relative to “eradicate the very possibility of being able to be Ukrainian”, which he considers Putin’s ultimate goal in the war. He also noted that the White House legal team will make the final decision on the categorization of Russian crimes.
Zelensky applauded Biden’s remarks as “the authentic words of a true leader.” “Calling things by his name is essential to confront evil,” stressed the Ukrainian president.
Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.
Subscribe here to newsletter of EL PAÍS America and receive all the informative keys of the current affairs of the region