US will not hesitate to raise cost on Russia: Joe Biden
Washington, Feb 5: US President Joe Biden on Thursday said the days of his country rolling over in the face of Russia''s aggressive actions are over and warned Moscow that his administration will not hesitate to raise the cost on it.
"I made it clear to President Putin, in a manner very different from my predecessor, that the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia''s aggressive actions -- interfering with our elections, cyberattacks, poisoning its citizens -- are over," Biden told State Department employees.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is one of the world leaders with whom Biden has spoken over the phone. "We will not hesitate to raise the cost on Russia and defend our vital interests and our people. We will be more effective in dealing with Russia when we work in coalition and coordination with other like-minded partners," he said.
Biden said the politically-motivated jailing of Alexei Navalny and the Russian efforts to suppress freedom of expression and peaceful assemblies are a matter of deep concern to the United States and the international community.
"Mr Navalny, like all Russian citizens, is entitled to his rights under the Russian constitution. He has been targeted for exposing corruption. He should be released immediately and without condition," he said.
On Thursday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov over the phone, during which they discussed the New START extension and the need for new arms control that addresses all of Russia''s nuclear weapons and the growing threat from China.
Blinken reiterated Biden''s resolve to protect American citizens and act firmly in defence of US interests in response to actions by Russia that harm the United States and its allies.
"This includes the release of Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed so that they are able to return home to their families in the United States. The secretary raised Russian interference in the 2020 US election, its military aggression in Ukraine and Georgia, the poisoning of Alexei Navalny and the SolarWinds incident, among other issues," State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said.
Earlier in the day, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan explained that unlike the previous administration, the Biden administration will be taking steps to hold Russia accountable for the range of malign activities it has undertaken.
"That includes interfering in America''s democracy. It includes the poisoning of citizens on European soil with chemical weapons. It includes the types of hacks and breaches that you just referred to and many other things as well. We will do that at a time and in a manner of our choosing. And we believe that imposing those costs and consequences will have an effect on Russia''s behaviour going forward.
"Now, is it going to stop Vladimir Putin from doing everything we do not like? Of course not. But do we believe that we will be able to take a firmer, more effective line when it comes to Russian aggression and Russian bad behaviour? Yes, we do," he said.
At the same time, Sullivan reiterated that does not rule out being able to work with Russia where it is in American interest to do so.
"We can walk and chew gum at the same time. And the New START Treaty and that extension -- keeping a lid on nuclear proliferation -- is, in fact, very much in America''s national security interests," he said.
Meanwhile, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committee, introduced a resolution with senators Chris Coons, Marco Rubio and Dick Durbin calling for broad cooperation between Congress and the Biden administration to formulate a strategy to counter the malign activities of Russian proxies.