The state department appears to be disagreeing with President Joe Biden’s comments about “genocide” in the war between Russia and Ukraine.
According to a report by Fox News, the state department said on Wednesday that the president’s previous comments about Russian forces in Ukraine was based “on the horrific atrocities that we’ve all seen” take place throughout Ukraine.
The president’s use of the word was not, however, a reflection of what the U.S. government believes, overall, according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
The state department official was quick to say that there has been no legal determination about whether genocide is at issue in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine:
“The president has not hesitated to draw attention to the horrific acts, the atrocities that Russia’s forces have been committing almost since the very first hours of Russia’s invasion,” Price said, pointing journalists to his department’s assessment that “war crimes” have been committed by Russia.
The state department official also noted that Russians in Ukraine have acted in a way that the government has been negative toward since the start of the invasion.
According to Price, it will be the “task of international lawyers to determine whether what we’re seeing meets that legal threshold of genocide.”
“The president was basing his comments on the horrific atrocities that we’ve all seen in Mariupol, Bucha, Kharkiv, you could go on,” Price added.
Price also told reporters that the State Department is “engaged in a process at this very moment to work with partners around the world — but in the first instance, our Ukrainian partners — to help them collect, to preserve, to document, and to share evidence of atrocities, potential war crimes, and yes, if that legal threshold is reached, genocide.”