Joe Biden Holds First Call With Vladimir Putin, Presses On Hacking Attacks, Navalny Arrest

Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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President Joe Biden held his first call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Tuesday.

Psaki said Biden pressed Putin on the alleged Russian hacking of whole swathes of the U.S. government through Solar Winds malware as well as Putin’s arrest of political rival Alexei Navalny. Biden also revisited the alleged bounties Russia had placed on the heads of U.S. soldiers serving in the Middle East, a scandal that fizzled out under President Donald Trump in 2020. (RELATED: Putin Says He’s Ready To Work With President-Elect Biden)

Biden appeared after the Tuesday call to sign various executive orders, but did not take questions regarding his call with the Russian president.

While Trump initially brushed off news of the hack and reportedly resisted blaming Russia for the incursion, his administration ultimately named America’s longtime rival before leaving office.

“I can’t say much more as we’re still unpacking precisely what it is, and I’m sure some of it will remain classified,” Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the time. “But suffice it to say there was a significant effort to use a piece of third-party software to essentially embed code inside of U.S. Government systems and it now appears systems of private companies and companies and governments across the world as well. This was a very significant effort, and I think it’s the case that now we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity.”

Navalny returned to Russia in early January after recovering from an attempted assassination-by-poison in Germany. He was arrested before leaving the airport and then called on his supporters to take to the streets, setting off weeks of protests.

Biden reportedly called for Navalny to be released.