Ahead of their summit on Wednesday, President Biden issued a warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Biden said the death of Alexei Navalny, a jailed Russian opposition leader, “hurts” Russia’s relationship with the rest of the world.
Biden on Russia
At a press conference on Monday, after the NATO summit, Biden said Navalny’s health conditions are another sign the Russian government has little to no intention of following basic human rights.
Biden added that in his view, what Russia did does nothing but “hurt” their relationships with the whole world.
Asked what would happen to U.S.-Russia relationship if Putin critic Alexey Navalny were to die in prison, Pres. Biden says, "It would be a tragedy. It would do nothing but hurt [Putin's] relationship with the rest of the word, in my view, and with me." https://t.co/jLoEesj284 pic.twitter.com/Wndvlrs5vf
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) June 14, 2021
Issues surrounding Navalny’s imprisonment and bad health conditions served as the last straw in the already-tense relationship between Russia and the West.
On Monday, NATO also issued a statement, saying that aggressive actions form a threat to Euro-Atlantic security.
NATO cited the military buildup as well as how they use hybrid warfare and cyberattacks. Some of the actions were allegedly Kremlin-funded disinformation campaigns.
White House: Geneva summit is not a “reward” for Putin
Meanwhile, as Biden prepares for the upcoming one-on-one meeting with Putin, the White House maintains that the summit does not place Putin on par with the United States. They added that it does not amount to a reward for Putin.
The White House declared that instead, this meeting would look at a business-like review of the relationship of both countries. Accordingly, Biden is expected to raise pressing issues and will also look at areas where Russia and the U.S. can work hand in hand.
On Monday, Biden praised Putin, saying he is a “worthy adversary.” Biden also said the Russian leader is bright and tough.
Pres. Biden on Vladimir Putin:
"He's bright. He's tough. And I've found he is a, as they say when I used to play ball, a worthy adversary." pic.twitter.com/lPFo3XrR1Q
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) June 14, 2021
However, this is not the first time that Biden pressed the Russian leader about the situation of Navalny. It can be noted that shortly after Biden was sworn in, he talked to Putin over the phone; he told the Russian leader that the imprisonment of Navalny is of “deep concern” to the U.S.
During a speech to U.S. diplomats, Biden said that Navalny, just like other Russian citizens, is also entitled to his rights.
Biden added that Navalny was targeted due to his acts of exposing corruption in Russia. He added that Navalny should be released without any conditions.
In January, Navalny flew from Germany to Russia; during this time, he spent almost six months getting better after getting poisoned the previous summer. However, as soon as Navalny landed in Russia, he was arrested at passport control.
Then, one month later, the Russian court sentenced him to more than two years in jail, allegedly for parole violations. Yet, Navalny believes that these charges were politically motivated; he is far from alone in holding this viewpoint.