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In first call with Putin, Biden presses on Navalny and arms control treaty

Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin
Posted at 4:30 PM, Jan 26, 2021

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has had his first phone call with Vladimir Putin, raising his concerns about the arrest of opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

In the call on Tuesday, he also pressed the Russian leader on his nation’s involvement in a massive cyber espionage campaign and reports of bounties on American troops in Afghanistan.

Biden has looked to establish a sharp break from the warm rhetoric often displayed toward Putin by his predecessor, Donald Trump.

But the new president also is looking to preserve room for diplomacy, telling the Russian leader that the two nations should finalize a five-year extension of an arms control treaty, called New START, before it expires early next month. They agreed to have their teams work urgently to complete the extension by Feb. 5.

The White House says Biden also reaffirmed the United States’ support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and raised other matters of concern, including reports of interference in last year’s U.S. election.

“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,” said the White House in a statement. “The two presidents agreed to maintain transparent and consistent communication going forward.”