Apr 7, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Schumer says atrocities in Ukraine are "genocide"

Chuck Schumer

Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) declared on the Senate floor last night that the reported atrocities in Bucha, Ukraine, amount to "genocide," and he condemned Vladimir Putin as "pure evil."

What they're saying: "When we murder wantonly innocent civilians because of who they are, whether it be their religion, their race, their nationality — that is genocide. And Mr. Putin is guilty of it," Schumer said.

Why it matters: No Western government, including the Biden administration, has gone as far as Schumer or Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in formally characterizing the reported massacre of hundreds of civilians in the Kyiv suburb as genocide.

  • "We have not yet seen a level of systematic deprivation of life of the Ukrainian people to rise to the level of genocide," national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday, while stressing that the U.S. believes Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine.
  • If "at some point we reach the judgment that there, in fact, has been a level of atrocity, a level of killing, a level of intentional activity that rises to meet our definition of genocide, we’ll call it for what it is," he added.

What to watch: The Senate on Wednesday night unanimously passed "lend-lease" legislation that would allow President Biden to cut through red tape to expedite the supply of weapons to Ukraine, as the U.S. famously did for the Allies in World War II.

  • On Thursday, the Senate is set to formally revoke normal trade relations with Russia and codify President Biden's Russian oil embargo into law.

The big picture: The Biden administration on Tuesday authorized an additional $100 million in security assistance to Ukraine, bringing the total amount of military aid since Russia's invasion began to $1.7 billion.

  • Convinced now that Ukrainian forces have the ability to defeat Russia on the battlefield, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba traveled to Brussels to plea for more aid from NATO and the G7.
  • "My agenda is very simple. It has only three items on it: weapons, weapons and weapons," Kuleba told reporters at a NATO ministerial meeting. "As weird as it may sound, today weapons serve the purpose of peace."
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