President Joe Biden said that the atrocities being committed by Russia in Ukraine qualify as “genocide” for the first time. Biden told Iowa reporters he considers the Russian actions to be genocide because “Russian President Vladimir Putin is just trying to wipe out even the idea of being Ukrainian. The evidence is mounting.”

Previously, Biden referred to the atrocities as “war crimes.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky applauded Biden’s efforts to call out the atrocities. Zelensky tweeted, “calling things by their names is essential to stand up to evil.”

Biden’s use of the word genocide is significant because the U.S. government rarely refers to atrocities using the term genocide.

Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser, said, “we have seen atrocities, we have seen war crimes. We have not yet seen a level of systematic deprivation of life of the Ukrainian people to rise to the level of genocide.”

In a recent interview, Sullivan noted that the U.S. will “continue to work aggressively to get Ukraine what it needs to strengthen its hand on the battlefield and to strengthen its hand at the bargaining table.”

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