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Biden admin says it will keep working with Putin in ‘important areas,’ likely climate change

Russia's President Vladimir Putin, left, and US President Joe Biden meet for talks at the Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland. (Mikhail Metzel/TASS/Zuma Press/TNS)
February 25, 2022

President Joe Biden’s State Department said on Friday that the administration will continue to work with Russia when it comes to areas that are of “overriding importance.” While the department did not say exactly what those areas include, the spokesman’s comments come days after U.S. Special Climate Envoy John Kerry said he hopes “President Putin will help us to stay on track with respect to what we need to do for the climate.”

During a Friday press conference, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that while the U.S.’s relationship with Moscow is “very different” following Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the Biden administration will continue to “engage” with Putin in certain areas.

“Russia’s actions, it’s needless, unprovoked, unnecessary, brutal campaign against Ukraine has fundamentally changed the relationship that Moscow has not only with the United States but with countries around the world. The flavor, the look, the feel of our relationship with Moscow is very different today than it was last week or even a few days ago,” Price said.

“At the same time, we have national security priorities, national security imperatives, and there may be some areas in which the fulfillment of our national security priorities and imperatives require us to engage, to coexist at some level, with the Russian Federation,” he continued.

“These are areas that are of overriding importance to us. And there are a few that come to mind,” he added. “But the point is that Moscow is now a pariah on the world stage, President Putin is a pariah on the world stage, his economy will suffer, his financial system will suffer, Moscow’s strategic ambitions will suffer, Moscow’s strategic positioning and strength will suffer. But again, we are always going to pursue what’s in our national security interest however we need to do that.”

On Wednesday, Kerry said he was worried about Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s borders and the people who would be put at risk by Russia’s military actions but also by the “massive emissions consequences to the war.”

Kerry said Russia’s military actions would cause nations to lose focus on countering the effects of climate change.

“You’re going to lose people’s focus, you’re going to lose big country attention because they will be diverted and I think it could have a damaging impact,” Kerry said.

“Hopefully President Putin would realize that in the Northern part of his country, they used to live on 66 percent of the nation that was over frozen land,” Kerry added. “Now it’s thawing, and his infrastructure is at risk. And the people of Russia are at risk. And so I hope President Putin will help us to stay on track with respect to what we need to do for the climate.”