Kremlin says Biden's 'genocide' comments are wrong and unacceptable

Biden has repeatedly called Putin a war criminal but has not declared that Russia has committed genocide until Tuesday's statement.

 US President Biden speaks about situation in Russia and Ukraine, in Washington (photo credit: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE)
US President Biden speaks about situation in Russia and Ukraine, in Washington
(photo credit: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE)

Kremlin says 'genocide' accusation wrong and unacceptable

 The Kremlin said on Wednesday that it categorically disagreed with US President Joe Biden's description of Russia's actions in Ukraine as 'genocide'.

Biden said on Tuesday that Russia's behavior in Ukraine amounted to genocide in his view, using that word for the first time. 

"We consider this kind of effort to distort the situation unacceptable," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on a conference call with reporters."

This is hardly acceptable from a president of the United States, a country that has committed well-known crimes in recent times," Peskov said.

 Russian President Vladimir Putin visits the construction site of the Amur launch complex for Angara rockets at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Amur Region, Russia April 12, 2022. (credit: SPUTNIK/MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS) Russian President Vladimir Putin visits the construction site of the Amur launch complex for Angara rockets at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Amur Region, Russia April 12, 2022. (credit: SPUTNIK/MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS)

Biden accuses Russia of genocide in Ukraine

US President Biden said on Tuesday that Americans' ability to pay for gasoline should not hinge on whether a dictator declares war and "commits genocide" half a world away.

Biden has repeatedly called Russian President Vladimir Putin a war criminal but he has not declared that Russia has committed genocide in Ukraine until Tuesday's statement. 

He said that there's growing evidence that Russia's invasion of Ukraine amounts to genocide, but said it will be up to lawyers to make the final determination.

Later on Tuesday, Biden stood by his genocide description offered earlier in a speech at an ethanol plant in Iowa.

“Yes, I called it genocide because it has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of being able to be Ukrainian and the evidence is mounting," Biden told reporters before boarding Air Force One in Iowa.

He added: "We'll let the lawyers decide internationally whether or not it qualifies, but it sure seems that way to me,"

"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," Biden said at an event in Iowa on fuel prices. The president referred to expensive gasoline as a "Putin price hike."

Under international law, genocide is an intent to destroy - in whole or in part - a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.

According to UN convention, this includes through killings; serious bodily or mental harm; inflicting lethal conditions and measures to prevent births, among other means.

Biden has made a handful of statements about the war that US officials have later had to walk back. The president stirred controversy on a recent trip to Poland when he ad-libbed a line at the end of a speech and said that Putin should not be allowed to remain in power. The White House clarified that US policy was not to seek regime change.

Genocide, considered the most serious international offense, was first used to describe the Nazi Holocaust. It was established in 1948 as a crime under international law in a United Nations convention.

Since the end of the Cold War, the State Department has formally used the term seven times. These were to describe massacres in Bosnia, Rwanda, Iraq and Darfur; the Islamic State’s attacks on Yazidis and other minorities; China’s treatment of Uighurs and other Muslims and this year over the Myanmar army's persecution of the Rohingya minority. China denies the genocide claims.

At the State Department, such a determination normally follows a meticulous internal process. Still, the final decision is up to the secretary of state, who weighs whether the move would advance American interests, officials said.

Ukraine's President Zelensky praised Biden for saying Russian actions look like genocide. He said: "calling things by their names is essential to stand up to evil."