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President Joe Biden said Russia needed to free Alexei Navalny ‘immediately’ as he said the United States will no longer ‘roll over’ to President Vladimir Putin like ‘my predecessor.’
The tough and anti-Trump talk came Thursday when Biden made his first trip to a cabinet agency, the State Department, under the leadership of his longtime aide, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, and called for ‘reclaiming our credibility and moral authority.’
‘Much of which has been lost,’ Biden uttered.
There, Biden also said he would ‘take on directly’ the challenges posed the the U.S.’s ‘most serious competitor,’ China.
President Joe Biden spoke at the State Department Thursday and demanded that Russia release Alexei Navalny ‘immediately’
President Joe Biden said at the State Department he would not ‘roll over’ to Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and called on Putin to release opposition leader Alexei Navalny (right)
President Joe Biden also had a message for Chinese President Xi Jinping (pictured), saying that the U.S. would ‘take on’ China, but also work with its ‘most serious competitor’ on issues that benefit the American people
‘We’ll confront China’s economic abuses, counter its aggressive coercive action [and] push back on China’s attack on human rights, intellectual property and global governance,’ Biden said.
‘But we’re ready to work with Beijing when it’s in America’s interest to do so,’ the new president added.
Biden made the same point about Russia, explaining why he agreed to extend the START treaty for five years.
‘To preserve the only remaining treaty between our countries safeguarding nuclear stability,’ Biden said.
‘At the same time, I made it clear to President Putin, in a manner very different from my predecessor, that the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions interfering with our elections, cyber attacks, poisoning its citizens, are over,’ the president said.
Biden spoke with Putin six days into his presidency and said he would not hesitate to ‘raise the cost on Russia’ if need be.
Biden called Navalny’s imprisonment ‘politically motivated.’
‘And the Russian efforts to suppress freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are a matter of deep concern to us and the international community,’ Biden said.
‘Mr. Navalny, like all Russian citizens, is entitled to his rights under the Russian constitution,’ the president continued. ‘He’s been targeted targeted for exposing corruption. He should be released immediately and without condition.’
Navalny, the Russian opposition leader, was poisoned in August and then arrested last month for violating parole stemming from a 2014 charge, which had barred him from running for office.
At the State Department, Biden also took on Myanmar’s coup.
‘There should be no doubt that in a democracy force should never seek to overrule the will of the people or attempt to erase the outcome of a credible election,’ Biden said. ‘The Burmese military should relinquish power they have seized, release the advocates and activists and officials they have detained, lift the restrictions on telecommunications and refrain from violence.’
Throughout his remarks, Biden admitted that he believed the U.S. reputation had been badly damaged by President Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ posturing – and by the January 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill.
‘Though many of these values have come under intense pressure in recent years, even pushed to the brink in the last few weeks,’ Biden said. ‘The American people are going to emerge from this moment stronger, more determined and better equipped to united the world in fighting to defend democracy, because we have fought for it ourselves.’
He pointed to some of the first moves he made in office domestically as proof the U.S. was back on track.
Internationally, he said moving up the refugee cap – 125,000 in his first fiscal year in office – would also send the world the right message.
‘So today I’m approving an executive order to begin the hard work of restoring our refugee admissions program to help meet the unprecedented global need,’ Biden announced.
‘It’s going to take time to rebuild what has been so badly damaged, but that’s precisely what we’re going to do,’ the president said.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken (right) welcomes President Joe Biden (left) to the State Department on Thursday, marking Biden’s first trip to a cabinet agency
Donald Trump only visited the State Department once as president – above on May 2, 2018 to see Mike Pompeo sworn in as secretary of State
By choosing Foggy Bottom as his first Cabinet stop – as opposed to the Pentagon or another department – Biden is making a heavily symbolic gesture to an agency suffering from morale problems in the wake of Trump’s presidency.
‘We are grateful to both of you for visiting us so early on in the administration. Despite the remnants of snow outside, we know that you want to make the State Department as strong as it possibly can be for the country,’ Blinken said in his initial remarks to greet Biden and Harris.
In his speech Biden told State Department employees, ‘