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)
.@PressSec says that President Biden had his first call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
She says they discussed the Navalny arrest, Ukraine sovereignty, hack of U.S. agencies, and alleged Russian bounties on U.S. soldiers pic.twitter.com/Ond5ikbkfX
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) January 26, 2021
.@PressSec confirms that @POTUS and Putin spoke on the phone to discuss START extension, support for Ukraine sovereignty, Solar Winds hacks, Russian bounties on US soldiers in Afghanistan, Alexey Navalny, Russian interference in 2020, ie. issues that Trump did not bring up.
— Patsy Widakuswara (@pwidakuswara) January 26, 2021
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.
— Matthew Luxmoore (@mjluxmoore) January 23, 2021
Biden reportedly called for Navalny to be released.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN’s @mchancecnn: “necessary explanations were presented” by Russian President Putin when US President Joe Biden called for Russia to release Alexey Navalny. (The Kremlin readout doesn’t mention Navalny as a talking point)
— Vivian Salama (@vmsalama) January 26, 2021