President Joe Biden has accused Russia of carrying out a ‘genocide’, saying Vladimir Putin is trying to ‘wipe out the idea of even being a Ukrainian’.
‘Yes, I called it genocide,’ he told reporters in Iowa on Tuesday as he doubled down on this accusation while boarding Air Force One to return to Washington, as he said he would ‘let the lawyers decide’.
He added: ‘It’s become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being a Ukrainian.’
The admission comes as the White House debates how much to involve itself in the investigation into Russian atrocities by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
The Biden team wants to see Putin and his military chiefs held to account for the war horrors and many believe the court set up to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide able to secure justice.
However, French President Emmanuel Macron declined Wednesday to repeat Biden’s genocide accusation , warning that verbal escalations would not help end the war.
Speaking to France 2 television as he ramps up his re-election campaign against far-right leader Marine Le Pen, Macron said leaders should be careful with language.
“I would say that Russia unilaterally unleashed the most brutal war, that it is now established that war crimes were committed by the Russian army and that it is now necessary to find those responsible and make them face justice,” Macron said.
“It’s madness what’s happening, it’s incredibly brutal,” he added.
“But at the same time I look at the facts and I want to try as much as possible to continue to be able to stop this war and to rebuild peace. I’m not sure that verbal escalations serve this cause,” he said.
Biden’s comments drew praise from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who had encouraged Western leaders to use the term to describe Russia’s invasion of his country.
‘True words of a true leader (at)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.’