WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — President Joe Biden left for Europe Wednesday in his first trip abroad since taking office, expecting to meet with world leaders in the United Kingdom, Brussels and Geneva over the next eight days.
One of his main goals will be rebuilding relations with the United States’ top allies in Europe, saying they were degraded by his predecessor’s foreign policy. He also promised a strong message to any foes:
“We’re going to make it clear that the United States is back and the democracies of the world are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges,” Biden told American forces stationed in the U.K. when he arrived there Wednesday.
He said the U.S. and its allies must come together to push back against a rising China and an increasingly aggressive Russia, “ensuring strategic stability.”
Biden will meet face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva next week and has said he will confront him on the recent serious ransomware attacks on U.S. companies, including a major meat processor and critical oil pipeline. The FBI has concluded a Russian cybergang was responsible.
“The United States will respond,” Biden promised.
Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., the chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said there must be consequences for the cyberattacks.
“It is simply unacceptable that the Russians allow these criminal organizations to operate within their country,” Peters said. “We need to be even more aggressive.”
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., agrees.
“I think the message to Russia is that we’re not going to look the other way while they act like an outlaw state,” he said.
But he also wants European countries to play a more active role.
“They are going to have to take primary responsibility for their own defense against Russia in Europe,” he said. “We need to focus on China.”
Democrats and Republicans alike agree that given the threat the cyberattacks pose, they would support both sanctions and counterattacks from the U.S. to send a message to Russia.