Biden called intending to raise concern about the suspected Russian SolarWinds hacking campaign, Russia reportedly placing bounties on American troops and interference in the 2020 election, the White House said.
Washington- President Joe Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin Tuesday afternoon, expressing U.S. objections to a variety of Kremlin actions, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
Psaki told reporters at Tuesday’s press briefing that the call was scheduled to take place as she was behind the podium fielding press questions.
Biden called intending to raise concern about a suspected Russian SolarWinds hacking campaign that breached Justice Department email accounts, reports of Russian bounties reportedly placed on American troops and interference in the 2020 election, Psaki said. The president also intended to raise his concerns about the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the Kremlin’s recent treatment of peaceful protesters demonstrating in support of him, the press secretary said.
Biden also intended to support Ukrainian sovereignty and his goal of extending a nuclear arms treaty for five years with Russia, Psaki said.
The two leaders agreed to “work urgently” to extend the nuclear treaty by Feb. 5, when the deal is slated to expire, according to the Biden administration’s readout of the call. The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty limits the two nation’s deployed nuclear weapons to 1,550 each.
“They also agreed to explore strategic stability discussions on a range of arms control and emerging security issues,” the readout said.
Biden and Putin agreed to be transparent and communicate consistently, according to the readout.
“His intention was also to make clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of our national interests in response to malign actions by Russia,” Psaki told reporters.
Biden’s agenda for his call with Putin struck a decidedly different tone than former President Donald Trump, who was the subject of significant criticism for his relatively soft rhetoric toward Russia, especially relative to his broader America-first approach to foreign policy. Trump routinely attempted to undermine widely accepted evidence about the Kremlin’s 2016 election interference, at one point telling reporters that he would take the Russian president’s word over that of the U.S. intelligence community on the issue.
Biden has vowed to turn the page from the Trump administration on U.S.-Russia relations and take a stronger stance against the Kremlin.
In April 2018, Trump blamed poor relations between the U.S. and Russia on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential collusion between the Kremlin and Trump’s campaign. The investigation found no Trump-Russia conspiracy but established that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in “sweeping and systematic fashion.” Mueller’s report also found repeated communication between Trump associates and people who indicated they had potentially harmful information about Hillary Clinton.
On the large-scale hack into federal agencies uncovered in December — which intelligence agencies said was likely Russia’s doing — Trump baselessly suggested it may have been China. Biden has promised a forceful response to the campaign.
“My administration will make cybersecurity a top priority at every level of government,” Biden said in a statement, “and we will make dealing with this breach a top priority from the moment we take office.”
After less than a week in office, Biden has now been on calls with several prominent foreign leaders, including U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico.
Biden has pledged to “restore dignified leadership at home and respected leadership on the world stage” in the wake of Trump’s foreign policy.
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