US President Joe Biden directly and clearly called Vladimir Putin's policy in Ukraine "genocide".
Prior to this, at an event in Iowa, Biden alluded to the fact that he regarded Putin's actions in Ukraine as "genocide", but he did not directly mention the Russian president's name. After the speech, journalists asked Biden to comment on the meaning of his statements.
"Yes, I called it genocide because it's become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being Ukrainian. And the evidence is mounting,” he said. "More evidence is coming out of the horrible things that the Russians have done in Ukraine. And we're going to only learn more and more about the devastation. We'll let the lawyers decide internationally whether or not it qualifies, but it sure seems that way to me," Biden said.
The Kremlin has responded to Biden's genocide remarks.
“We consider it unacceptable to try to twist the situation in such a fashion. We have said this before - this is hardly acceptable for the US president,” Putin's official spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.
He also recalled that Washington has committed "well-known deeds" in modern and recent history.
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron refused to call Russia's actions in Ukraine "genocide". Instead, Macron said that Russia and Ukraine were two brotherly peoples.
“Today I would be careful with such terms, because these two peoples [Russians and Ukrainians] are brotherly people's. I want to keep trying, as much as possible, to restore peace. I am not sure that the escalation of rhetoric serves this cause,” he explained.
This is not the first time Biden has allowed himself harsh remarks about the Russian president. Biden earlier called Putin a "war criminal", but then said that his point of view was not the official position of Washington. On March 26, Biden also insulted Putin, calling him a "butcher."
Kremlin's official spokesperson Dmitry Peskov responded that Biden's remarks about Putin would only narrow the window of opportunity for further cooperation. Peskov later also said that Biden's attacks on Putin were unworthy and unacceptable.