US President Joe Biden accuses Vladimir Putin of “genocide”

Earlier, Biden said that this man (Putin) is cruel and what is happening at Buka is condemnable.

Washington: President Joe Biden on Tuesday first accused Vladimir Putin’s military of committing genocide in Ukraine, where Russia was ramping up its campaign to subdue the devastated port city of Mariupol.

Biden’s accusation came as Moscow – already accused of widespread atrocities against civilians by the West – feared readying a massive attack on Ukraine’s east that Washington warned would contain chemical weapons. may be involved.

“Yeah, I called it genocide,” Biden told reporters hours after he employed the term during a speech in Iowa – its first use by a member of his administration.

“We’ll let the lawyers decide internationally whether it’s worthy or not, but it certainly seems so to me,” Biden said. “It has become clear and clear that Putin is just trying to erode the idea of ​​being able to be Ukrainian.”

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky – who has repeatedly accused Moscow of attempting a “genocide” – responded swiftly by tweeting at Biden: “The true words of a true leader.”

Zelensky wrote, “To stand up against evil it is necessary to call things by their names.”

Biden had previously described Putin as a “war criminal” because the discovery of hundreds of civilians reportedly killed in Buka outside Kyiv sparked a global uprising.

But he stopped using the word “genocide” in line with long-standing US protocol, because of its strict legal definition and the heavy implications of the allegation.

Adding to the list of horrors emerging from Ukraine, Zelensky sounded the alarm on Tuesday about snowballing allegations of rape and sexual assault by Russian forces.

“Hundreds of rape cases have been reported, including of little girls and very young children. Even a child!” Ukrainian leader told Lithuanian lawmakers via video link.

chemical weapons threat

In the latest finding fueling allegations of Russian atrocities, Ukrainian prosecutors said six people were shot dead in the basement of a building outside the capital.

While the toll on the cities captured during the months-long attack to take Kyiv is still coming to light, the heaviest civilian toll is expected to be in Mariupol, where Zelensky said he believes Russia had killed “tens of thousands”.

AFP journalists in Mariupol see the charred remains of the city as part of a Russian military base, including the theater where Russian bombings last month were believed to have killed 300 people.

As the fighting drew to its seventh week, Ukrainian forces were desperately fighting to defend the strategically located Mariupol.

Moscow is believed to be trying to annex occupied Crimea with Lugansk in the Russian-backed separatist regions Donetsk and Donbass, and have besieged the city, home to more than 400,000 people.

Reports emerged on Monday from Ukraine’s Azov Battalion that a Russian drone had dropped a “poisonous substance” in the area, leaving people suffering respiratory failure and neurological problems.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was unable to confirm the allegations, but Washington had “credible information” Russia may be using 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 “watching closely.”

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby warned that Moscow’s use of such weapons “will elicit a response not only from the United States, but also from the international community,” without elaborating.

‘They will remember’

With little hope of a quick end to the war, President Vladimir Putin vowed that Moscow would proceed on its own timetable, rejecting repeated international calls for a ceasefire.

“Our task is to meet and achieve all the goals set, minimizing losses. And we work in a rhythmic, calm manner according to the plan originally proposed by the General Staff,” Putin told a news conference with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. will do.”

He also rejected “fake” claims that hundreds of civilians were killed in Buka under Russian occupation.

Buka Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk said more than 400 people were found dead after Moscow’s forces withdrew, and 25 women were reported to have been raped, as the city prepared to return residents fleeing the fighting.

“What people will find in their homes is shocking, and they will remember the Russian occupiers for a very long time,” he said.

‘Satan Avatar’

Heavy bombardment continued in the east of Ukraine as civilians were urged to flee before a possible increase of Russian forces around the Donbass region, particularly near the city of Izium – adding to the 10 million people already displaced by the fighting.

A steady stream of residents fled by bus and train from Kramatorsk – the Ukrainian military’s main center for its operations in the east – and neighboring Slovak as fears grew that the cities would be prime targets.

“What is happening is inhuman, (Putin) a fascist. I don’t know what to call him – a devil incarnation,” said 82-year-old Valentina Olenikova, who was fleeing Krematoresk with her husband.

In the war-torn eastern city of Volnovakha, now under Moscow’s control, a school reopened, where children listened to recordings of the Russian anthem, watched by armed soldiers.

After two weeks of bombing, many homes, shops and public buildings are now semi-fractured, windowless or burnt down.

tycoon swap

In a separate development, Zelensky offered to swap a Kremlin supporter — arrested by Russia — for Ukrainians captured after evading house arrest.

Zelensky posted a photo of a disfigured-looking Viktor Medvedchuk – one of Ukraine’s richest people who counts Putin among his personal friends – with his hands in cuffs and wearing a Ukrainian army uniform.

“I propose to the Russian Federation to exchange this boy of yours for our boys and our girls who are now in Russian captivity,” Zelensky said in a video address on Telegram.

Medvedchuk, a highly controversial figure in Ukraine, was under house arrest for attempting to steal natural resources from Russia-affiliated Crimea and handing over Ukrainian military secrets to Moscow.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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