Speed Reads

Not a gaffe

Biden clarifies that yes, he did mean to call Putin's Ukraine invasion 'genocide'

President Biden's off-the-cuff comments have sometimes landed him in trouble, but he clarified Tuesday afternoon that he did mean to call Russian President Vladimir Putin's Ukraine war "genocide." 

"Yes, I called it genocide," he told reporters on the airport tarmac in Des Moines, Iowa. "It has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being, being able to be Ukrainian." He said "the evidence is mounting" of "the horrible things that the Russians have done in Ukraine," and this week is "different than it was last week." But Biden also made it clear that this is still in the realm of his opinion and not legally binding. "We'll let the lawyers decide internationally whether or not it qualifies, but it sure seems that way to me," he said. 

The United Nations treaty that made genocide a war crime in 1948 describes it as "as a crime committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, in whole or in part." British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Poland's Andrzej Duda have also referred to Russian's actions in Ukraine as genocide, CNN reports. And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy, who has used the word for weeks, thanked Biden for adopting the charge, calling it "true words of a true leader."