President Biden Called Russia President Vladimir Putin Tuesday, to address a wide range of national security-related issues, including the renewal of the Nuclear Weapons Treaty, bonuses for US soldiers in Afghanistan and interference in the 2020 elections.
Biden’s first step in rebuilding diplomacy with one of the main adversaries of the United States was to bring the United States and Russia back to the negotiating table and agree to a five-year extension of the only remaining nuclear weapons treaty.
The new strategic arms control treaty, known as START, was jeopardized last year when the Trump administration initially said it would not agree to renew the treaty, which is due to expire in February, unless China enters into the agreement – a move China categorically rejected.
President Trump withdrew the United States from the original 1987 Nuclear Weapons Treaty with Russia in October 2018, claiming that the former Soviet country was not up to the agreement, leaving only the New START treaty.
The White House confirmed on Tuesday that both the United States and Russia “will work urgently” to complete the extension by the February 5 deadline.
The White House said in a statement that the two countries “also agreed to explore strategic stability discussions on a range of emerging arms control and security issues.”
But Biden raised other difficult issues in his first phone call to Putin since entering the White House last week.
The hack of SolarWinds – one of the largest cybersecurity breaches in US history, by suspected Russian government criminals – was on the agenda on Tuesday, along with the reported Russian bounty offered to US soldiers in Afghanistan last year.
“President Biden made clear that the United States will act decisively in defense of its national interests, in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies,” the White House said in a statement.
Biden accused his predecessor of weakness toward Russia, calling Trump “Putin’s pup” during the first presidential debate last year, and criticizing him for not taking decisive action after reports surfaced about rewards offered to US soldiers in Afghanistan.
The new president also affirmed the US position in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty, and condemned the poisoning of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Putin has not publicly commented on the phone call he had with Biden on Tuesday, but the Kremlin issued a statement stating that the “normalization of relations” between the two superpowers was not only in the interest of their relationship, but “to preserve global security. And stability for the entire international community.”
Biden also addressed concerns about reports from the intelligence community about repeated Russian interference in the 2020 general election. The president’s decision to tackle election interference with Putin is in direct contrast to Trump’s response to reports of election interference in 2016 – at some point. Suggestion He trusted Putin’s word to US intelligence officials.
Biden said he would make restoring US diplomacy a cornerstone of his presidency by improving relations with allies and expanding treaties with adversaries such as Russia and Iran.