U.S. President Joe Biden outlined his foreign policy vision in a speech at the State Department on February 4, vowing to confront “authoritarianism” in China and Russia while reengaging with the world and allies.
Declaring “America is back, Diplomacy is back,” Biden announced a reset of foreign policy and described how his administration will seek to lead in the world after four years under President Donald Trump.
In a series of policy announcements, Biden said he would halt a redeployment of troops stationed in Germany, end U.S. support for offensive operations to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, and increase the refugee cap to 125,000.
He also signaled a desire to rebuild alliances frayed under Trump’s “America First” foreign policy, saying that U.S. leadership and engagement are need to address global challenges such as climate change and the coronavirus pandemic.
The new president made remarks to foreign service officers before delivering a broader foreign policy speech.
On Russia, Biden said he warned President Vladimir Putin in their first call that the days of the United States “rolling over” to Russia’s “aggressive actions” have come to an end.
“I made it clear to President Putin, in a manner very different than my predecessor, that the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions — interfering with our elections, cyberattacks, poisoning its citizens — are over,” Biden said.
“We will not hesitate to raise the cost on Russia and defend our vital interest and our people,” Biden said.
His comments on Russia come as Washington and its European allies barrel toward fresh tensions with Moscow over the jailing of opposition politician Alexsei Navalny.
Biden demanded Russia release the anti-corruption campaigner, describing his detention as “political.”
A Moscow court this week ordered Navalny to serve nearly three years in prison after he returned to Russia in January from Germany, where he had been receiving treatment for a nerve agent poisoning he blames Putin of ordering.
More than 10,000 Russian protesters have been arrested demanding Navalny’s release.
“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. He’s been targeted for exposing corruption. He should be released immediately and without condition,” the U.S. president said.
Biden said Washington and Moscow could still cooperate in some areas, pointing to the New START arms control treaty the two sides extended by five years this week.
China also had a prominent place in his speech as the Biden administration seeks to pursue a pivot of U.S. economic, political, and military power to the Asia-Pacific region.
Biden called China the United States’ most serious peer competitor, but said he is ready to work with Beijing when it is mutually beneficial.
“We will…take on directly the challenges posed [to] our prosperity, security and democratic values by our most serious competitor, China,” Biden said.
“We will confront China’s economic abuses, counter its aggressive course of action to push back China’s attack on human rights, intellectual property and global governance,” he said. “But we’re ready to work with Beijing, when it’s in America’s interest to do so.”
With reporting by AFP, dpa, AP, and Reuters