WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden on Thursday told Russia that the United States would no longer be “rolling over” in the face of aggressive action by Moscow, declaring a new, tough approach by Washington.
Visiting the State Department, Biden also promised to repair alliances and engage with the world again. “American leadership” must meet rising authoritarianism and unite with partners to combat global challenges such as the coronavirus pandemic or climate change, he said.
Biden, as expected, adopted a sterner tone with Russian President Vladimir Putin than his predecessor, Donald Trump.
“I made it clear to President Putin in a manner very different from my predecessor, that the days the United States rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions, interfering with our elections, cyber attacks, poisoning citizens are over,” Biden said. The two leaders spoke by phone in late January.
“We will not hesitate to raise the cost on Russia and defend our vital interests and our people, and we will be more effective in dealing with Russia when we work in coalition and coordination with other like-minded partners,” he said.
As president, Trump came under intense criticism that he was too friendly with Moscow, amid U.S. intelligence findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election to boost his chances of winning the White House.
Washington and Moscow disagree on a wide range of issues such as Russia’s military ambitions in Ukraine and Georgia, the alleged poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, and last year’s cyberattack on U.S. government agencies that Washington blames on Russia.
Biden, calling the recent jailing of Navalny “politically motivated,” said Washington was deeply concerned and repeated a U.S. call for his release.
Despite their disagreements, the two countries earlier this week extended the New START arms control treaty for five years, preserving the last treaty limiting deployments of the world’s two largest strategic nuclear arsenals.
Reporting by Alexandra Alper, Humeyra Pamuk and Steve Holland; Writing by Humeyra Pamuk Editing by Leslie Adler and Cynthia Osterman
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