Biden Warns Russian President Putin About Election Meddling In Their First Call
In his first call as U.S. President to his Russian counterpart, Joe Biden warned Vladimir Putin against meddling with U.S. presidential election.
The White House said Biden warned that his government would impose additional sanctions on Moscow if U.S. intelligence confirms Russian interference in election.
A White House statement about the telephone call said Biden voiced concern over the SolarWinds hack, reports of Russia placing bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, the poisoning of Russian Opposition leader Aleksey Navalny, and treatment of peaceful protesters by Russian security forces.
He reaffirmed the United States’ firm support for Ukraine’s sovereignty in the wake of Russia’s ongoing aggression.
“President Biden made clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies,” the White House press release added.
The two leaders discussed both countries’ willingness to extend New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) for five years, agreeing to have their teams work urgently to complete the extension by February 5. They also agreed to explore strategic stability discussions on a range of arms control and emerging security issues.
Trump had refused to sign on the new START, that was due to expire next month.
The two presidents agreed to maintain transparent and consistent communication going forward, according to the White House.
Earlier, at a media briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “the President’s 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.”
“The conversation between the leaders of Russia and the United States was of a business-like and frank nature,” according to the Kremlin.
Biden, who has in the past referred to Putin as “a KGB thug”, accused Donald Trump of being “Putin’s puppy” during an election debate. He accused his predecessor of being too weak on Russia.
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