The Biden-Harris administration has ordered an official review into Russian misconduct, including investigating the SolarWinds hack and the supposed placing of bounties on the heads of United States troops in Afghanistan.
The White House has also announced that President Biden wishes to seek an extension to the New START treaty which is due to expire on February 5th.
The SolarWinds hack was first reported on December 13th 2020; hackers attacked and breached three major US firms (SolarWinds, Windows and VMware) as well as carrying out attacks on Federal agencies, parts of the Pentagon, and departments such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of the Treasury. Federal investigators came to the conclusion that it was most likely Russia’s Foreign Intelligence service that carried out the attack, however at the time the Russians denied any involvement or foul play. Press Secretary Psaki also stated that the Biden administration is prepared to work with Russia, saying that the “United States intends to seek a five year extension” to the current nuclear arms treaty.
The New START treaty was negotiated under President Obama and came into force back in February 2011; it limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the United States and the Russian Federation can deploy to no more than 1,550. The treaty also limits which missiles and bombers can carry them. Daryl Kimball, who is the director of the Arms Control Association, called Biden’s proposal “the common sense, no nonsense, adult decision” and explained that New START is the “only treaty left regulating the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals”. The Kremlin said that it welcomed President Biden’s proposal but added that they were waiting to hear more details about a potential deal from Washington.
The announcement of the review alongside that of the treaty extension appears to indicate that Biden intends to take a more critical approach with Russia whilst signalling that he is willing to work with them to prevent the possibility of another arms race. This two pronged method was best summed up by Psaki, who said that “even as we work with Russia to advance US interests, so, too we work to hold Russia to account for its reckless and adversarial actions.”
ARTICLE: NATHAN REID
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: JIM WATSON/AFP
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