US President, Joe Biden has formally accused Russian President, Vladimir Putin of committing genocide in Ukraine, where Russia is intensifying its campaign to take the strategic port city of Mariupol.
Biden said: “Yes, I called it genocide,” Biden told reporters on Tuesday, hours after employing the term during a speech in Iowa — its first use by a member of his administration.
“We’ll let the lawyers decide internationally whether or not it qualifies, but it sure seems that way to me,” Biden said. “It’s become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being able to be a Ukrainian.”
Prime Business Africa recalls, the embattled President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine had repeatedly accused Moscow of attempted “genocide” too.
In support for Biden’s genocide allegation, Zelensky swiftly responded by tweeting at Biden: “True words of a true leader.”
“Calling things by their names is essential to stand up to evil,” Zelensky wrote — renewing his appeal for more heavy weapons to “prevent further Russian atrocities”.
You will also recall that President Biden had previously described Putin as a “war criminal” as the discovery of hundreds of civilians reportedly killed in Bucha, outside Kyiv, sparked global revulsion.
But before now, the US had diplomatically refused to call a spade one stopping short of using the term “genocide,” in line with longstanding US protocol, because of its strict legal definition and the heavy implication the accusation carries.
Reports emerged on Monday from Ukraine’s Azov battalion that a Russian drone had dropped a “poisonous substance” in the area, with people experiencing respiratory failure and neurological problems.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was unable to confirm the allegations, but that Washington had “credible information” Russia might use tear gas mixed with chemical agents in the besieged port.
The world’s chemical weapons watchdog said it was “concerned” by the unconfirmed reports coming from Mariupol, and was “monitoring closely”.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby warned the use of such weapons by Moscow would “elicit a response not just from the United States, but from the international community.”
“What is happening is inhuman, (Putin) is a fascist. I don’t know what to call him — a devil incarnate,” said 82-year-old Valentina Oleynikova, who was fleeing the city with her husband.
With little hope of a quick end to fighting, Putin pledged Moscow would proceed on its own timetable, rebuffing repeated international calls for a ceasefire.
“Our task is to fulfil and achieve all the goals set, minimising losses. And we will act rhythmically, calmly, according to the plan originally proposed by the General Staff,” he told a news conference with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.