US won’t roll over in face of Russia’s actions, says Biden

Published February 5, 2021
President Biden said he had warned President Vladimir Putin that the US will no longer be “rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions”. — AFP/File
President Biden said he had warned President Vladimir Putin that the US will no longer be “rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions”. — AFP/File

WASHINGTON: Asserting a broad reset of American foreign policy, US President Joe Biden said on Thursday that he would halt the withdrawal of troops stationed in Ger­many, end support for Saudi Arabia’s military offensive in Yemen and make support for LGBTQ rights a cornerstone of diplomacy.

About relations with Moscow, President Biden said he had warned President Vladimir Putin that the US will no longer be “rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions”.

“We will not hesitate to raise the cost on Russia and defend our vital interest and our people,” Biden said in his first major policy speech at the State Department.

“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 in our elections, cyber attacks, poisoning its citizens, are over,” he said.

In his first major policy speech, the president said he’d end support for Riyadh in Yemen and halt troop pullout from Germany

In his first visit to the State Department as president, Biden called for a return to the “grounding wire of our global power”.

‘America is back’

He sought to buck up the diplo­matic corps, many of whom were discouraged by the policies and tone of former President Donald Trump.

“America is back. Diplo­macy is back,” Biden said in brief remarks to the State Department staff. “You are the centre of all that I intend to do. You are at the heart of it. We’re going to rebuild our alliances.”

The president called on Myanmar’s military to “relinquish power” and release the government officials and activists detained in this week’s coup.

“There can be no doubt: 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.

With Biden’s most public diplomatic effort of his young presidency, White House officials said he was hoping to send an unambiguous signal to the world that the United States was ready to resume its role as a global leader after four years in which Trump pressed an America First agenda.

Trump last year, despite congressional resistance, announced plans to redeploy about 9,500 of the roughly 34,500 US troops stationed in Germany, which hosts key American military facilities like the Ramstein air base and the headquarters for the European Command and the US Africa Command.

Trump announced the pullback after repeatedly accusing Germany of not paying enough for its own defence, calling the longtime Nato ally delinquent for failing to spend two percent of its GDP on defence, the alliance benchmark.

During Thursday’s visit to the State Department, Biden also announced that he would increase the cap on the number of refugees allowed into the United States at 125,000 more than eight times the level at which the Trump administration left it.

Trump had drastically reduced the cap to only 15,000. Biden’s plan would surpass by 15,000 the ceiling set by president Barack Obama before he left office in 2017.

Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2021

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