President Joe Biden on Monday accused Russia and China of trying to “drive a wedge” between partners in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as he said the alliance stands together after participating in his first NATO summit as U.S. commander-in-chief.
Speaking in Brussels, Biden also issued a warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of their scheduled one-on-one meeting on Wednesday.
“I’m not looking for conflict with Russia,” Biden said at a news conference. “But we will respond if Russia continues its harmful activities.”
Biden earlier Monday called the NATO alliance “critically important for U.S. interests,” and described its collective defense pledge as a “sacred obligation,” in a significant shift from his predecessor, Donald Trump. Trump had threatened to withdraw the U.S. from the alliance if other nations didn’t boost their spending.
The U.S. leader in comments alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said there were “new challenges” facing the alliance.
“We have Russia, which is acting in a way that is not consistent with that we had hoped, and we have China,” Biden said.
Biden has said he is planning to raise the issue of cyberattacks with Putin, after U.S. officials blamed the recent Colonial Pipeline attack on a Russia-based ransomware group. In recent weeks, the attacks on the pipeline and meat producer JBS
have thrust cybersecurity into the spotlight. Biden has said Russia has “some responsibility to deal with this.”
Biden also said at Monday’s news conference that the potential death of Alexei Navalny, the jailed Russian opposition leader, would be a “tragedy” and hurt Russia’s relations with the U.S. and the rest of the world.
China is mentioned nearly a dozen times in the NATO communique, the Wall Street Journal reported. “China’s growing influence and international policies can present challenges that we need to address together as an alliance,” the document states.
In U.S. stock-market action, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
lost ground Monday, while the Nasdaq Composite
notched its first record since April 26. Investors are preparing for the Federal Reserve’s meeting, which begins Tuesday.