President Biden stepped up his rhetoric against Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday by accusing the Russian leader of “genocide” in Ukraine.
“Yes, I called it genocide,” Biden told reporters in Iowa as he was boarding Air Force One to return to Washington. “It’s become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being a Ukrainian.”
Earlier in the day, Biden implied that he believed the war in Ukraine amounted to genocide. Russia has been accused of slaughtering hundreds of civilians in Bucha, but Moscow denies the allegation. There is evidence that civilians were killed, but it’s not clear if they were executed by Russian troops.
Also on Tuesday, a senior official with the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency told Newsweek that the amount of civilian deaths in Ukraine “hardly” amounts to genocide. “It is ugly … But we forget that two peer competitors fought over Bucha for 36 days, and that the town was occupied, that Russian convoys and positions inside the town were attacked by the Ukrainians and vice versa, that ground combat was intense, that the town itself was literally fought over,” the DIA official said.
“I am not for a second excusing Russia’s war crimes, nor forgetting that Russia invaded the country,” the DIA official added. “But the number of actual deaths is hardly genocide. If Russia had that objective or was intentionally killing civilians, we’d see a lot more than less than .01 percent in places like Bucha.”
If Biden’s standard for genocide is civilian casualties in a war, then the US would be guilty in the many wars it has waged in recent history. The New York Times recently revealed the massive civilian casualty rate in the US’s war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. During Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, a US drone strike in Kabul killed 10 civilians, including seven children. No US officials or troops were punished for the slaughter.
The DIA official stressed to Newsweek that the civilian casualties in Ukraine are typical of any modern war. “If we blame all the damage on Putin, as if he commanded it and that it is due solely to Russian war crimes, we are going to walk away from Ukraine with some illusion in our heads that modern warfare can be fought more cleanly, that the Ukraine war is an anomaly solely created by Russia’s behavior. This war is just demonstrating how destructive any war on this scale would be,” the official said.
The DIA official also said that if all the claims about civilian deaths were true, it’s more of a reason to end the war through negotiations. “But for those who think tens of thousands have died and Russia is intentionally killing civilians and pursuing genocide, I say that’s even more of an argument to find a diplomatic solution to cease fighting. But nothing is going to happen in the coming days or weeks to change the reality on the battlefield. That’s why stopping the fighting should be our highest priority,” the official said.
President Biden and his administration have shown little interest in pushing for a diplomatic solution and are instead pouring weapons into the war zone. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hasn’t spoken with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, since February 15, over one week before Russia invaded Ukraine.