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Biden warns Russia of ‘harmful activities’ at start of first official trip

US President Joe Biden launched his first official overseas trip with a warning to Russia that it incurs “robust and significant” consequences if it engages in “harmful activities”.

Mr Biden has made it clear his intention to strengthen ties with allies of the United States, following strained relations under the Trump administration.

President Biden arrived in the UK on Wednesday.

He will meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson to agree on a new “Atlantic Charter”.

The pact will be a modern version of the one concluded between Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt in 1941, with a focus on challenges such as climate change and security.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg says the two aim to refresh a vital relationship, after the turmoil of the Trump years and the pressures of the pandemic.

During a busy eight-day European visit, Mr Biden will meet the Queen at Windsor Castle, attend a G7 leaders’ meeting and join his first NATO summit as president.

At the end of his trip, Mr. Biden is due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.

The White House has indicated that it intends to cover “a full range of pressing issues” with its Russian counterpart, including arms control, climate change, Russian military involvement in Ukraine, cyber activities. piracy of Russia and the imprisonment of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny.

Three organizations linked to Mr. Navalny were declared illegal by a Moscow court on Wednesday for being “extremist”.

Speaking to US troops and their families at RAF Mildenhall Air Base in Suffolk on Wednesday, where he landed before heading to Cornwall, Mr Biden said he would send a clear message to Mr Putin .

“We are not seeking to come into conflict with Russia,” he said. “We want a stable and predictable relationship … but I have been clear: the United States will respond in a strong and meaningful way if the Russian government engages in harmful activities.”

Ties between Washington and Moscow are at their lowest on various issues. In April, Mr Putin accused the Western powers of trying to “go after” Russia and warned them not to cross a “red line”.

Mr Biden said that “every moment” on his first trip abroad as president, he wanted to make it clear that “the United States is back and democracies around the world unite to meet the challenges most difficult challenges and the most important problems for our future “.

Other G7 (Group of Seven) leaders will arrive in Cornwall in south-west England on Friday and meetings will take place this weekend.

The G7 is made up of the world’s seven largest so-called advanced economies – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and US – plus the EU.

Vladimir Putin downplayed expectations for his planned summit with President Biden

The main topic of conversation will be recovery from Covid, including “a stronger global health system that can protect us all from future pandemics”.

In an article for The Times, Boris Johnson said the G7 “will begin crafting a new global pandemic preparedness treaty so the world is never caught off guard the same way again.”

The Biden administration said it plans to deliver 500 million doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to around 100 countries over the next two years.

The G7 agenda also includes climate change and trade.

Mr Biden is expected to warn that the trade feud between the UK and the EU could endanger peace in Northern Ireland. He will call on his fellow leaders to protect the gains of the Good Friday agreement.

At the end of the summit, the UK – as the host country – will issue a document outlining what has been agreed by leaders.

After the G7, Mr Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will meet the Queen at Windsor Castle before flying to Brussels for talks with NATO on Monday and the EU on Tuesday.

U.S. ties with NATO were strained under Donald Trump, but NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg – visiting the White House on Monday – praised Biden’s “powerful commitment” to allies the United States.

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