Biden says Russia is committing genocide in Ukraine

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LVIV – US President Joe Biden said for the first time that Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine amounts to genocide, while President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would “rhythmically and calmly” continue its operation and achieve its goals. objectives.

Biden used the term genocide, a significant escalation of the president’s rhetoric, in a speech at an Iowa ethanol plant and later stuck to the description as he prepared to board Air Force One.

“Yes, I called it genocide because it has become increasingly clear that Putin is just trying to eliminate the idea that you can be Ukrainian and the evidence is mounting,” Biden told reporters on Tuesday.

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“We will let the lawyers decide internationally whether he qualifies or not, but it sure seems that way to me.”

Biden has repeatedly called Putin a war criminal, but Tuesday was the first time he accused Russia of genocide.

Russia has repeatedly denied targeting civilians and has said the Ukrainian and Western war crimes allegations are fabricated to discredit Russian forces.

Many of the towns Russia withdrew from in northern Ukraine were littered with the bodies of civilians killed in what kyiv says was a campaign of murder, torture and rape.

The Kremlin says it launched a “special military operation” on February 24 to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine. kyiv and its Western allies dismiss it as a false pretext.

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The nearly seven-week Moscow raid, the largest attack on a European state since 1945, has sent more than 4.6 million people fleeing abroad, killed or injured thousands and led to Russia’s near-total isolation. on the world stage.

Putin used his first public comments on the conflict in more than a week on Tuesday to say Russia would continue its operation “in a rhythmic and calm manner,” expressing confidence that its goals, including on security, would be achieved.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy taunted Putin in a morning speech on Wednesday: “How could a plan come about that provides for the deaths of tens of thousands of his own soldiers in just over a month of war?”

Putin said the intermittent peace talks “have again returned to a no-win situation for us.”

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During his remarks, Putin often seemed to ramble or stutter. He only occasionally adopted the icy, confident demeanor that has been his trademark for more than 22 years as Russia’s leader.

Putin, who had been ubiquitous on Russian television in the early days of the war, had largely withdrawn from the public eye since Russia’s withdrawal from northern Ukraine two weeks ago.


Zelenskiy told Russia to release the prisoners of war if it wants to release the Kremlin’s highest-profile political ally in the country.

Ukraine said that Viktor Medvedchuk, leader of the Opposition Platform – For Life party, had been detained. In February, authorities said he had escaped house arrest after a treason case was opened.

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The politician who says Putin is his daughter’s godfather has denied any wrongdoing. A spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

“I propose to the Russian Federation: exchange this boy of yours for our boys and girls who are now in Russian captivity,” Zelenskiy said in his speech.

Alongside a photo of Medvedchuk in handcuffs, the head of Ukraine’s security service, Ivan Bakanov, said on Facebook that officers “conducted this dangerous and lightning-fast multi-level special operation” to arrest him.

The Tass news agency quoted a Kremlin spokesman as saying he had seen the photo and could not say whether it was genuine.

Russia says it now intends to capture more territory on behalf of separatists in two eastern provinces, known as Donbas. It includes the port of Mariupol, which has been reduced to a wasteland under the Russian siege.

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Ukraine says tens of thousands of civilians have been trapped inside the city with no way to bring food or water, and accuses Russia of blocking aid convoys.

As Russia redoubles its efforts in the east, Lugansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai has urged residents to evacuate.

“It’s much scarier to stay and get burned in your sleep by a Russian shell,” he wrote on social media.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the eastern Donetsk region, which includes Mariupol, said he had seen reports of incidents of possible use of chemical weapons in the city but could not confirm them.

The United States and Britain have said they were trying to verify the reports. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said it was closely monitoring the situation.

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The production, use and stockpiling of chemical weapons are prohibited by the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention.

The Russian Defense Ministry has not responded to a Reuters request for comment. Russian-backed separatist forces in the east denied using chemical weapons in Mariupol, the Interfax news agency reported.

The United States is expected to announce a further $750 million in military assistance, two officials told Reuters, likely to include heavy ground artillery systems for Ukraine, including howitzers, in a sign the war is expected to drag on.

(Reporting from the offices of Steve Holland, DES MOINES, Iowa, Jeff Mason, WASHINGTON, and Reuters; Writing by Michael Perry; Editing by Stephen Coates)



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