'US will respond to reckless Russian acts' - Antony Blinken

Thursday, 06 May 2021 - 15:18

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The US Secretary of State has told the BBC that the US will respond to reckless or aggressive acts by Russia.

Antony Blinken said the US was focused on actions such as the treatment of opposition figure Alexei Navalny, the Solar Winds hack and election interference.

"We would prefer a more stable and predictable relationship," he said.

Blinken was in the UK for a meeting of foreign ministers of the G7 group of industrialized nations.

A statement issued after the two-day talks criticized Moscow for its "irresponsible and destabilizing behaviour", particularly against Ukraine, and for cyber-attacks.

Back in February US President Joe Biden said, in more headline-grabbing terms, that he had made it clear to President Vladimir Putin "that the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia's aggressive actions… are over."

His predecessor Donald Trump had at times seemed to avoid criticizing the Russian leader.

Blinken told the BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that the Biden administration was not trying to hold China back, stressing that the US was in favour of upholding a rules-based international system.

He said countries needed to look very carefully to see if China was investing in their strategic assets.

On Afghanistan, Blinken insisted that the US was "staying in the game" and would remain engaged with the country despite its troop withdrawal.

The Biden administration has announced that the last US soldiers will leave by September.

Blinken said regional powers might have to "step up" and use their influence and try to keep the country on a positive path.

What about Northern Ireland?

Asked about a possible trade deal with the UK and the situation in Northern Ireland, Mr Blinken said the administration remained very focused on peace in Ireland.

The Secretary of State said that for President Biden it was important that "whatever is done, whatever we do, the gains of the Good Friday Agreement are sustained, and we have the political and economic well-being of Northern Ireland in mind".

Joe Biden has previously said that Brexit must not endanger the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which effectively ended Northern Ireland's "Troubles".

Post-Brexit trade arrangements for Northern Ireland have led to tensions there and contributed to the recent resignation of First Minister Arlene Foster.