No WAY Putin! Biden warns Russia against US election meddling in first call as President

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On Tuesday afternoon the new US President and his Russian counterpart spoke over the phone and agreed to maintain contact in the future. But President Biden warned Mr Putin against election meddling.

Mr Biden told the Russian President that the US supported Ukraine against Russian “aggression”.

A statement from the White House said: “President Biden made clear that the United States will act firmly in defence of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies.”

President Putin congratulated Mr Biden on his US presidential election win, a Kremlin statement claimed.

It comes less than a week since Mr Biden was sworn into the White House.

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The two sides agreed to extend an arms control treaty which limits their deployed nuclear weapons.

The 2010 New Star agreement was extended by five years just 10 days before it was due to expire.

According to the Kremlin, “the presidents expressed their satisfaction with the exchange of notes of extension of the New Start, which happened today”.

The statement added: “In the coming days the parties will complete all the necessary procedures to ensure that this important international legal mechanism for the mutual limitation of nuclear missile arsenals functions in the future.”

The Kremlin also described the conversation as “frank and businesslike”.

Mr Biden raised his concerns about the poisoning and arrest of the Russian opposition leader, Aleksei Navalny.

The White House statement read: “[Mr Biden] raised other matters of concern, including the SolarWinds hack, reports of Russia placing bounties on United States soldiers in Afghanistan, interference in the 2020 United States election, and the poisoning of Aleksey Navalny.

“President Biden made clear that the United States will act firmly in defence of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies.

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“The two presidents agreed to maintain transparent and consistent communication going forward.”

Last year, FBI director Christopher Wray warned that Russia was interfering in the 2020 US presidential elections.

He claimed Russia was using a stream of misinformation aimed at undermining Mr Biden.

In September, Mr Wray said he was most concerned about the “steady drumbeat of misinformation” he feared could undermine confidence in the election result.

He said the bureau had witnessed “very active efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020”.

Former US President Donald Trump was accused by critics of not having a more forceful position over Mr Putin.

Mr Trump frequently cast doubt over Russia’s interference in the 2016 US elections.

Mr Biden has suggested he will take a much tougher stance on Russia than his predecessor.

Since November, Mr Trump has repeatedly made baseless claims the election was stolen from him.

On Monday, Mr Trump’s impeachment trial was formally triggered after Democrats accused the former president of “incitement of insurrection” over the violent Capitol riots on January 6.

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