President Biden accused Russia's president Vladimir V. Putin of perpetrating genocide on the Ukrainian people for the first time, but he emphasized that was his personal view, not a legal determination.
The remark came offhandedly in a speech at a bioethanol plant in Iowa, where Mr. Biden was announcing measures to counter rising gas prices. He made reference to Mr. Putin and the economic impact of the war on Americans about halfway through the speech.
It doesn't matter whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide half a world away, your family budget, your ability to fill up your tank, all of it should not be a factor in your ability to fill up your tank, he said. It was a marked escalation from statements earlier this month when he said Russian atrocities in the suburbs near the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, were war crimes but did not rise to the level of genocide.
The president reaffirmed his characterization on the tarmac later on Tuesday afternoon as he left Iowa.