By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
KYIV/WASHINGTON (Worthy News)— U.S. President Joe Biden has announced an additional $800 million in military assistance to Ukraine after calling Russia’s actions in Ukraine “genocide,” prompting criticism from France.
The package brings the total American military aid since Russian forces invaded in February to more than $2.5 billion, ahead of a broader Russian assault expected in eastern Ukraine.
It includes artillery systems, artillery rounds, armored personnel carriers, and unmanned coastal defense boats, Biden said following a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Biden’s announcement came a day after he accused Moscow for the first time of committing genocide, saying: “[Russian President Vladimir] Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being Ukrainian.”
“And the evidence is mounting,” Biden added.
“More evidence is coming out of the horrible things that the Russians have done in Ukraine. And we’re going to only learn more and more about the devastation. We’ll let the lawyers decide internationally whether or not it qualifies, but it sure seems that way to me,” the U.S. president said.
Biden’s comments, however, were rejected by French President Emmanuel Macron, who seeks to keep open lines of communications with Moscow. Macron argued that an “escalation of words” would not help bring peace.
The French president’s remarks drew an angry response from Kyiv, as he suggested that the term “genocide” did not apply as Ukrainians and Russians were “brotherly people.”
The spokesman for Ukraine’s foreign ministry, Oleh Nikolenko, called Macron’s remarks disappointing. “Brotherly’ people don’t kill children, don’t shoot civilians, don’t rape women, don’t mutilate the elderly, and don’t destroy the homes of other ‘brotherly’ people. Even the fiercest enemies don’t commit atrocities against defenseless people,” Nikolenko added.
The comments came as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe claimed
Russia broke international humanitarian law in Ukraine.
The Vienna-based security body, released Wednesday, cited attacks on civilian targets in the battered port city of Mariupol as examples.
Aid workers say it has become increasingly challenging to evacuate civilians from the besieged city where authorities claim as many as 20,000 people have died in relentless Russian shelling.
Humanitarian efforts were also reported Wednesday at the troubled Chernobyl nuclear power plant, once the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986.
Kyiv said negotiations were underway on the exchange of 169 service members of the National Guard of Ukraine who were taken prisoner at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
“Chernobyl is a tragic page in our history. Unfortunately, we have to state that 169 servicemen of the National Guard were taken prisoner there,” said Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, Denis Monastyrsky.
“Today, some of them, according to our information, are in the territory of the Republic of Belarus, some – in Russia. We were at the place where they were kept. This is a dungeon without light, without the ability to communicate properly.”
He added they were “were taken out. Unfortunately, I can’t say what their fate is.”
Negotiations are underway to exchange them, “But we understand that this will probably be only after the end of the active phase of hostilities,” he added in comments cited by the ministry.
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