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Travel Blinken's warning for Putin: He will answer for ransomware attacks

18:10  07 june  2021
18:10  07 june  2021 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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Tony Blinken, Vladimir Putin, Joe Biden are posing for a picture: MailOnline logo © Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo

Secretary of State Tony Blinken warned that Vladimir Putin will have to answer for the ransomware attacks that caused meat and gas prices to skyrocket when the Russian president meets with President Joe Biden next week.

'We would prefer to have a more stable, predictable relationship with Russia. We’ve made that clear. But we’ve made equally clear that if Russia chooses to act aggressively or recklessly toward us or toward our allies and partners, we’ll respond,' Blinken told Axios' Mike Allen in an interview that aired on HBO.

The series of cyber attacks, which included hits on the Colonial Pipeline and meat processer JBS USA, were conducted by hackers in Russia.

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'When it comes to these ransomware attacks, of course, we’ve already talked to the Russians about this. One of the things we’re seeing is that criminal enterprises seem to be engaged in these attacks. And it is an obligation on the part of any country, including Russia, if it has a criminal enterprise acting from its territory against anyone else, to do what’s necessary to stop it, to bring it to justice,' the secretary of state said.

Biden is meeting with Putin next Wednesday in Geneva for their face-to-face meeting since Biden became president. Tensions have risen between Washington and Moscow as Biden has taken a heavy-handed approach when dealing with Russia. He has taken Russia to task for its interference in US elections; Moscow's aggressive posture toward the Ukraine and the government's treatment of dissent Alexei Navalny.

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Blinken said one of the reasons Biden is meeting with his Russian counterpart is because of the ransomware attacks, 'to tell him directly and clearly what he can expect from the United States if aggressive, reckless actions toward us continue.'

He said the meeting would be a test of the administration's goal to have a 'stable, predictable relationship' with the Kremlin.

'I can’t tell you whether I’m optimistic or not about the results of that test, but it’s important to do that. And also, I don’t think we’re going to know after one meeting, but we’ll have some indications and we’ll see. We’re prepared either way,' Blinken noted.

'If Russia chooses to continue reckless and aggressive action – we’re prepared to deal with that, as we have – on the other hand, if it chooses a different course, we’re prepared to engage,' he added.

Last week, Biden did not rule out retaliation against Putin for the series of cyber attacks on American companies.

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'We're looking closely at that issue,' Biden said when asked if he would retaliate. But he dismissed concerns he was being tested by his Russian counterpart.

'No,' he said when asked if he thought Putin was testing him.

The meeting between Biden and Putin will come at the end of the president's first foreign trip, capping off his nine-day trip to Europe.

Biden's first stop will be the UK will be a visit with US troops. He and first lady Jill Biden, on Wednesday, will visit US Air Force personnel and their families stationed at Royal Air Force Mildenhall. RAF Mildenhall is home to the 100th Air Refueling Wing, the only permanent U.S. Air Force air refueling wing in the European theater.

Biden will hold his first face-to-face meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday when the two leaders sit down ahead of the G7 meeting.

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June 9:  Visit US Air Force personnel and their families stationed at Royal Air Force Mildenhall

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June 10: Meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson

June 11-13: Attending G7 Summit in Cornwall

June 13: He and Dr. Jill Biden meet with The Queen at Windsor Castle

June 14: NATO Summit in Brussels

June 15: U.S.–EU Summit in Brussels

June 16: Meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva

Given it's Biden's first international trip as president, he's crammed in a packed schedule: the G7 meeting, a NATO meeting, an EU summit and the sit down with Putin.

Biden held off on foreign travel due to the coronavirus pandemic but is making up for it with this trip that includes meetings with foreign leaders, Queen Elizabeth II, the king of Belgium, and his Russian counterpart.

First lady Jill Biden will join him for the British portion of the trip but will return to the United States after the first couple meets with the Queen at Windsor Castle next Sunday.

Biden will be the 13th American president the Queen has met since ascending to the throne in 1953.

There is speculation that the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will also meet the American couple at some point during their visit to the UK.

At his sit down with Johnson, Biden will 'affirm the enduring strength of the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom,' White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement last week.

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Biden and Johnson have spoken on the phone multiple times since Biden was elected president.

'There's a range of issues of mutual interest,' Psaki said Thursday at her White House press briefing when asked about the sit down. 'From the future of economic growth in the world to addressing the COVID pandemic to security issues around the world so they have a range of topics they can clearly discuss.'

Johnson will also asked the American president to exempt vaccinated British and American travellers from quarantine restrictions to facilitate travel between the two nations.

The PM wants to create a 'green channel' for those fully vaccinated, The Times reported, as the summer holiday season approaches.

Afterward their meeting, Biden will attend the G7 summit, where he will  hold bilateral meetings with fellow G7 leaders. The G7 includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.

After his meeting with The Queen, Biden will travel to Brussels, Belgium, to participate in in a NATO meeting and an EU Summit.

There, the president will discuss transatlantic security and the collective defense of Europe.

He will also meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Biden also will participate in the U.S.–EU Summit while in Brussels. That meeting with focus on global health and the world economy. Leaders will discuss climate change, trade, and democracy.

President Biden will also meet with His Majesty King Philippe of Belgium and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

Then Biden travels to Geneva for his sit down with Putin on June 16. He will also meet with Swiss President Guy Parmelin and Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis.

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