Vladimir Putin may be 'putting Biden to the test' says expert
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In a warning to the Russian President, Mr Biden insisted the US will not back down in its desire to protect Ukraine’s sovereignty. Speaking today, Mr Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan, claimed the White House will always protect Ukraine from any territorial aggression from Russia. Although not drawn on what the two leaders discussed during the call, Mr Sullivan insisted the US will continue to pursue democratic avenues with Russia.
He said in an interview with MSNBC: “That’s what we intend to do going forward but we intend to do that through high-level diplomatic communication, not through issuing public ultimatums.”
Earlier this month, Russian troops descended on the border in what they labelled as a military exercise, despite Ukrainian authorities claiming it involved 100,000 soldiers.
The troops also moved towards Crimea which was seized and annexed by Russian forces in 2014.
Although the troops were later pulled back at the end of the exercise, Putin also issued a warning to the West amid its threats against the government.
Speaking at his annual address, Putin said: “We don’t want to burn bridges, but if somebody interprets our good intentions as weakness, our reaction will be asymmetrical, rapid and harsh.
“We’ll decide for ourselves in each case where the red line is.
“The organisers of any provocations against Russia will regret their actions in a way they never have before.”
Since becoming President, Mr Biden has pledged to confront Russia and deter the state from any form of aggression against the US or its allies.
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In an initial move against Russia, Mr Biden revealed a series of sanctions against the state whom Washington accused of being behind cyberattacks intended to interfere in the 2020 US election.
US officials claimed Russian actors were behind the SolarWinds hack, thus forcing Mr Biden to introduce new measures earlier this month.
Mr Biden said: “I was clear with President Putin that we could have gone further, but I chose not to do so.
“The United States is not looking to kick off a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia.”
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These sanctions target 32 entities and individuals who have been accused of carrying out attacks on the US.
A further six Russian technology companies which support intelligence services were also included in the sanctions.
A statement from the White House read: “This sends a signal that the United States will impose costs in a strategic and economically impactful manner on Russia if it continues or escalates its destabilizing international actions.
“This includes, in particular, efforts to undermine the conduct of free and fair democratic elections and democratic institutions in the United States and its allies and partners.”
The US and its partners in the West have also condemned Russia’s treatment of Putin’s political rival, Alexei Navalny.
Mr Navalny had participated in a hunger strike until this week after accusing Russian officials of maltreatment during his prison sentence.
Amid the uproar in Russia over Mr Navalny’s treatment, the Russian government has moved to crack down on his supporters.
Approximately 13,000 of his supporters have been arrested since January following multiple protests across the country over his arrest.
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