U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement today after President Joe Biden met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, Switzerland:
“Today, Americans collectively sighed in relief knowing we have a President that understands the importance of standing up for our friends, defending human rights, and bluntly speaking truth to those who seek to do us harm.
“President Biden did his job and stood up for the American people by making clear that the United States will respond to Kremlin aggression where and when it happens. This was a necessary reality check for Putin and a welcome departure from the past four years of Trump’s coddling of the Kremlin. The onus is now on Vladimir Putin to shift course on a host of malign activities in Ukraine and Syria as well as cyber attacks against the U.S., and human rights abuses at home. In the likely event that Putin does not change his behavior, I fully expect President Biden to take assertive, but appropriate measures in response.
“President Biden made clear his administration understands the critical principle that we have to engage with Russia on arms control issues to ensure a nuclear war never happens. I welcome the establishment of the Strategic Stability Dialogue and hope substantive progress can be made to reduce the risk of armed conflict. I also appreciate that the President raised the detentions of Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed and welcome his support for RFE/RL to be reinstated in Russia.
“In his press conference, President Putin repeatedly referred to U.S. Congressional views on Russia. During the Trump years, I was proud to lead the charge so the Senate stood up for the United States when the Trump White House refused to. This dedication to principle remains, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will continue to conduct rigorous oversight of Russia policy to ensure that the Administration’s rhetoric matches its actions.”