Thu. Aug 18th, 2022

US president echoes Ukrainian rhetoric, while trying to blame Moscow for record inflation

US President Joe Biden accused Russia of committing a “genocide” in Ukraine during a speech in Iowa on Tuesday, while trying to promote corn-based ethanol as a way to lower gas prices amid a 40-year record inflation.

“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,” Biden said in Menlo, Iowa, some 45 miles west of Des Moines. The hamlet of some 300 residents is located next to a factory producing bioethanol from corn – something the White House is trying to encourage now in order to combat the rising fuel prices, for which it blames Russia.

“I’m doing everything within my power by executive orders to bring down the price and address the Putin price hike,” Biden said, using his administration’s talking point about the 48% spike in prices at the pump since March 2021.

This is Biden’s first officially recorded use of “genocide” to describe the conflict in Ukraine. Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed the alleged mass killings in the town of Bucha were genocide, for which he blamed Russia. 

When asked about it on April 4, Biden said, “No, I think it is a war crime.”

His national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters later that there was a process in determining what amounted to genocide, and that the US has “not yet seen a level of systematic deprivation of life of the Ukrainian people to rise to the level of genocide,” though that is “something we will continue to monitor.” 

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Kremlin responds to Biden calling Putin ‘war criminal’

Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” in mid-March, prompting the Kremlin to denounce such rhetoric as “unacceptable and unforgivable” coming from a country “whose bombs killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world.”

The US president has escalated his rhetoric towards Russia as economic news at home grew more dire. The March inflation report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics showed an 8.5% spike in the Consumer Price Index, highest since 1981. Gas prices had risen 18% from the previous month, and 48% from March 2021, while food was up by 8.8%, the most since May 1981.

While blaming this all on Russia’s decision to send troops into Ukraine, the White House is reportedly sending another $750 million worth of US weapons to Kiev, Reuters reported on Tuesday citing anonymous officials. The equipment – including heavy artillery – would come from US military stock and not require congressional approval, the report said.