Biden suggests Putin is a ‘dictator’ who has committed ‘genocide half a world away’

Shannon Pettypiece
President Joe Biden speaks at POET Bioprocessing in Menlo, Iowa, Tuesday, April 12, 2022.
Carolyn Kaster | AP

President Joe Biden bemoaned the spike in gas prices as being driven by a "dictator" who committed "genocide half a world away" in a speech Tuesday that was an apparent reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine.

In remarks in Iowa, the president blamed Putin for recent price hikes at the pump. "Your family budget, your ability to fill up your tank, none of it should hinge on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide half a world away," said Biden.

The president had stopped short on April 5 of calling the atrocities in Bucha a genocide, when asked by reporters whether Russian actions there fit that definition. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said then that the killings documented so far in Ukraine did not rise to the level of "genocide" as defined by the U.S. government.

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The State Department has a lengthy internal process for determining if mass killing amounts to genocide, including collecting evidence over a period of time.

The U.S. defines genocide as "an act against members of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the killings in Bucha a genocide.