Biden raises ‘matters of concern’ in first phone conversation with Putin

President Joe Biden said the United States would "act firmly in defense of its national interests" in response to harmful actions by Russia in his first phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Pool Photo by Doug Mills/UPI

Jan. 27 (UPI) — U.S. President Joe Biden raised various “matters of concern” in his first phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, the White House said.

In a readout of the call, the White House said Biden presented the issue of the SolarWinds cyberattack that affected multiple government agencies and Fortune 500 companies, reported Russian bounties placed on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, interference in the 2020 presidential election and the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

“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 said. “The two presidents agreed to maintain transparent and consistent communications going forward.”

Prior to being sworn in as president, Biden said his administration would make cybersecurity a top priority and work to “disrupt and deter our adversaries” from launching cyberattacks, in response to the SolarWinds attack.

A readout from the Kremlin described the conversation as “businesslike and sincere” and said the two leaders discussed “vital bilateral and international issues” and opportunities to cooperate on matters such as responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, trade and the economy.

“[Putin] noted that normalization of relations between Russia and the U.S. would meet the interests of both countries and, considering their special responsibility for maintaining global security and stability, of the entire international community,” the Kremlin said.

Additionally, Biden and Putin discussed a five-year extension of the New START arms agreement, which caps Washington and Moscow’s deployed nuclear weapons at 1,550 each, and is currently set to expire Feb. 5.

“They also agreed to explore strategic stability discussions on a range of arms control and emerging security issues,” the White House said.


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