National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks at a press briefing at the White House on March 22. File Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo
April 10 (UPI) -- Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser to President Joe Biden, appeared to downplay the importance of using the label "genocide" to describe the reported atrocities committed by Russian troops on the people of Ukraine.
"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 and that is what we are doing," Sullivan said responding to questions from CNN host Jake Tapper.
"And we're doing that not just by supporting international investigations and gathering evidence to hold the perpetrators all the way to the highest levels accountable. We're doing it by providing sophisticated weapons to Ukrainians that are making a major difference on the battlefield."
Sullivan said that Ukraine won the battle of Kyiv "because they faced a brave and stiff Ukrainian resistance" causing Russian forces to retreat from the northern region of the country and concentrate their efforts on the Donbas region.
"But that resistance was armed with American weapons and Western weapons that the United States of America delivered and we are proud of that," Sullivan said.
The United Nations defines genocide as committing acts "with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group." Such acts include killing members of a group of people, causing bodily harm and forcibly transferring children of the group to another people.
U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., told CNN on Sunday that a missile strike that killed at least 50 people in a crowded train station filled with civilians evacuating eastern Ukraine on Friday was "clearly genocide."
Cheney said that eastern European countries that continue to buy Russian oil and gas are "funding that genocidal campaign."
"I understand the economic consequences to countries in Western Europe if they were to impose a kind of oil and gas embargo that the US has imposed against Russian oil and gas -- but they need to do it," she said.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said Sunday that the agency has recorded at least 1,793 civilian deaths including 142 children. There have been 2,439 civilians injured in the war, including 229 children.
"Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, and missile and airstrikes," the OHCHR said.
"OHCHR believes that the actual figures are considerably higher, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration."