President Joe Biden has proposed a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin to take place in a third country, so that the two can discuss a "full range of issues," according to the White House.
In his phone call with Putin on Tuesday — his first with the Russian president since taking office — Mr. Biden "made clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to Russia's actions."
"President Biden reaffirmed his goal of building a stable and predictable relationship with Russia consistent with U.S. interests, and proposed a summit meeting in a third country in the coming months to discuss the full range of issues facing the United States and Russia," the White House readout of the call said.
The readout went on to say that the two leaders "discussed a number of regional and global issues, including the intent of the United States and Russia to pursue a strategic stability dialogue on a range of arms control and emerging security issues, building on the extension of the New START Treaty."
But Mr. Biden also raised Russia's "cyber intrusions and election interference." U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and that the country was behind recent cyber attacks on American companies and software systems.
Last year, Russian spies sabotaged a tiny piece of computer code buried in a popular piece of software called "SolarWinds," which spread to 18,000 government and private computer networks. The hackers accessed the digital files of the U.S. departments of Justice, State, Treasury, Energy, and Commerce, and were able to pry into top-level communications, court documents and nuclear information.
Russia has denied any election interference or cyber intrusions.
"President Biden emphasized the United States' unwavering commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The President voiced our concerns over the sudden Russian military build-up in occupied Crimea and on Ukraine's borders, and called on Russia to de-escalate tensions," the readout of the conversation also said.
In 2014, Russia unilaterally annexed Crimea, a peninsula in the Black Sea that is home to a Russian navy base, resulting in international condemnation and sanctions. Russia on Tuesday warned the United States against sending warships to the Black Sea, urging American forces to stay away "for their own good." U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, meeting with Ukrainian and NATO officials in Brussels, made it clear that the Biden administration, along with its allies in Europe, considers Russia's ongoing military buildup in the region "very provocative."
Mr. Biden has not hesitated to criticize Putin, saying in an interview in March that he believes the Russian president is "a killer." Moscow pulled its envoy from Washington after Mr. Biden's remarks, and Russian officials demanded an apology.