“Your family budget, your ability to fill up your tank, none of it should hinge on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide a half a world away,” Biden said in Iowa, where he was unveiling a new rule on ethanol.
“To help deal with this Putin price hike, I’ve authorized the release of 1 million barrels per day from the strategic petroleum reserve,” Biden added.
While decrying war crimes and atrocities, he and his aides have said the actions seen in Ukraine don’t rise to the “genocide” level.
“We have seen atrocities, we have seen war crimes. 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 earlier this month.
On Sunday, Sullivan told CNN’s Jake Tapper that calling it “genocide” isn’t as important as calling out the atrocities.
“In my opinion, the label is less important than the fact that these acts are cruel and criminal and wrong and evil, and need to be responded to decisively,” he said.
Biden has previously offered views of the situation in Ukraine they go beyond what his administration has officially declared. He said in mid-March that Putin was a “war criminal,” a view his press secretary later said was a description “from the heart.”
The administration officially said war crimes were underway a few weeks later.
It’s another moment of Biden getting ahead of his administration’s official stance.
Visiting Warsaw later in March, Biden said in a speech that Putin “cannot remain in power.” Later, he said he was speaking after an emotional visit with refugees, and the United States wasn’t pursuing a policy of regime change in Russia.