House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Biden gave Putin “a pass.” Alexander Vindman, director of European and Russian affairs at the 2018-2020 National Security Council, wrote that Russia came away with a “public relations victory” while the United States has “little to show in terms of improvements tangible aspects of national security ”.
Sullivan attacked these arguments, noting that Putin commands an important global platform as the Russian leader.
“It’s called being president of one of the world’s major nuclear powers,” Sullivan said. “So from our point of view, we have to deal with him. We must deal with him in a strong, determined and principled manner. ”
Sullivan then referred to Biden’s former predecessor, saying Putin had not been challenged by a US president on “difficult issues” for “a few years now,” given former President Donald Trump’s relationship with the Russian leader.
“For that reason alone, it was worth sitting down with President Putin,” Sullivan said. “But even beyond that, President Biden was advancing the national security interests of the United States, reducing the risk of nuclear war, increasing the possibility that we could move forward on issues related to cybersecurity and others. areas that are in the fundamental national interest of the United States. ”
Sullivan was also pressed to find out how the United States would react if Russia continued malicious activity such as cyber attacks on the 16 critical infrastructure areas Biden referred to on Wednesday. Sullivan echoed the president’s comments and said the United States has significant cyber capabilities that it is ready to use if Russia does not curb cybercriminals operating on its soil.
“I won’t go into details now, but President Biden has made it clear to President Putin our capabilities and his full willingness to use them if necessary as things evolve,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan widely praised his boss’s performance on his first trip abroad, saying Biden “has reclaimed” the “mantle of leader of the free world.” He highlighted the collaboration among the G-7 countries on how to tackle China.
Sullivan said the president has no definite plan to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and is waiting for the “right time”.
“President Biden, of course, is going to want, at the right time, the opportunity to sit down with President Xi Jinping for a reason similar to his meeting with President Putin, that is, he Ultimately, there is no substitute for face-to-face dialogue between leaders, especially with complex relationships like US-China relations, ”Sullivan said.