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Biden Has First Call With Russian President Vladimir Putin


President Biden voiced criticism of Vladimir Putin throughout his presidential campaign. The two leaders shown here in March 2011.

Photo: alexander natruskin/Reuters

WASHINGTON—The White House said Tuesday that President Biden held his first call as president with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which he raised concerns about an array of issues including the detaining of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the massive SolarWinds hack and reports of Russia offering bounties on American troops.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Mr. Biden reaffirmed America’s “strong support” for Ukraine’s sovereignty and addressed concerns about Russian interference in the 2020 election. The call also focused on plans to extend a U.S.-Russia nuclear arms treaty for five years.

Mr. Biden voiced criticism of Mr. Putin throughout his presidential campaign, and the call represented his first opportunity as president to seek to establish a break from the frequently warm rapport between former President Donald Trump and the Russian leader.

The White House said it would provide more details on the call later in the day.

Ms. Psaki said Mr. Biden had planned to raise the treatment of “peaceful protesters by Russian security forces,” and also “make clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of our national interests in response to malign actions by Russia.”

Mr. Biden’s initial discussions with Mr. Putin comes in the aftermath of wide scale protests in support of Mr. Navalny across the country last weekend.

Mr. Navalny, an ardent critic of Mr. Putin, was arrested earlier this month after he returned to Russia from Germany, where he had been recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he has accused the Kremlin of perpetrating. Russian officials have denied any role in the poisoning.

Demonstrations in support of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny sprung up across Russia Saturday, ending with the detention of over 3,000 protesters. Navalny was arrested Jan. 17 upon returning from Germany. Photo: Dmitri Lovetsky/AP

Write to Ken Thomas at

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