Joe Biden said he would tell Vladimir Putin this week that the US would respond if Russia continued its “harmful activities” and that he would make clear where the “red lines are”.
The US president was speaking at a press conference in Brussels as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) alliance wrapped up their summit on Monday.
Biden is set to meet with his Russian counterpart on 16 June in Geneva in their first face-to-face encounter since the Biden took office.
“I shared with our allies what I’ll convey to President Putin. That I’m not looking for conflict with Russia but that we will respond if Russia continues its harmful activities and that we will not fail to defend the transatlantic alliance or stand up for democratic values,” Biden said.
Calling Putin a “worthy adversary”, Biden said that world leaders had been supportive of him meeting with the Russian president now. Amid the NATO summit, Biden met with the Bucharest 9, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia.
“I’m going to make clear to President Putin that there are areas where we can cooperate if he chooses, and if he chooses not to cooperate and acts in the way that he has in the past relative to cyber security and some other activities then we will respond. We will respond in kind,” Biden said.
Asked what it would mean for the US-Russia relationship if Alexey Navalny died in prison, Biden said: “Navalny’s death would be another indication that Russia has little or no intention of biding by basic fundamental human rights. It would be a tragedy. It would do nothing but hurt his relationships with the rest of the world in my view and with me.”
NATO allies highlight threat from authoritarian powers
Meanwhile, the 30 NATO allies said in a joint statement that they face “multifaceted threats, systemic competition from assertive and authoritarian powers, as well as growing security challenges to our countries and our citizens from all strategic directions”.
They highlighted several common challenges to the countries’ collective security among them Russia, China, terrorism, migration and climate change.
Biden said that NATO had also affirmed their “continued support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”.
In particular, the allies noted that China’s “stated ambitions and assertive behaviour present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order”.
They expressed concern over China “expanding its nuclear arsenal with more warheads and a larger number of sophisticated delivery systems to establish a nuclear triad.”
NATO, a military alliance of North American and European countries, came into existence in the aftermath of World War II to counter the Soviet Union.
Biden’s press conference comes ahead of a US-EU summit on Tuesday where the US president is set to meet with European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen and Council President Charles Michel.
He is expected to discuss subjects ranging from trade to climate change with the EU leaders.