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Biden Gets Ahead of U.S. Policy Again With ‘Genocide’ Remark

  • Speech marked third time Biden went beyond White House plans
  • Official genocide declaration would trigger legal process
Joe Biden
Joe Biden

Photographer: Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg

Updated on

When President Joe Biden labeled Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “genocide” during an address on energy prices in Iowa, it set off a now-familiar scramble among White House aides to contain diplomatically loaded presidential rhetoric threatening to go beyond official U.S. policy.

Senior officials huddled with Biden after his speech Tuesday to discuss the moment when Biden told attendees that their family budgets should not “hinge on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide a half a world away.” The remark marked a dramatic reversal less than two weeks after his administration had specifically declined to endorse Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s use of the term.