breaking the ice
President Biden has held his first phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The White House confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Biden spoke with Putin for the first time since his swearing-in last week and raised several "matters of concern," including the SolarWinds hack, Russia allegedly placing bounties on American troops in Afghanistan, election interference, and opposition leader Alexei Navalny's poisoning.
"President Biden made clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies," the White House said.
Nationwide protests have erupted in Russia calling for Navalny's release after the Putin critic was detained earlier this month, and CNN reports that during their conversation, Biden called on Putin to release him. The president also "broke sharply with Trump by declaring that he knew that Russia attempted to interfere with both the 2016 and 2020 elections," The Associated Press reports. However, AP also notes that Biden has looked to "preserve room for diplomacy," and the White House said Biden and Putin talked about "both countries' willingness to extend" the New START arms control treaty and agreed to "maintain transparent and consistent communication."
CNN also noted that the extensive agenda for the call alone pointed to the "troubled state of affairs between Washington and Moscow that he inherited from the previous administration."