May 23, 2022

Biden admin. to remain engaged with Russia on issues of ‘overriding importance’

Despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s growing isolation and status as a pariah on the world stage, the Biden administration on Friday indicated its willingness to continue to engage with his government on matters of “overriding importance.”

State Department spokesperson Ned Price delivered remarks on the evolving situation and admitted that while the U.S. sees relations with Russia in a “very different” light in the wake of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, there are still realms in which continued engagement is required.

According to Price, “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.”

At the same time, however, Price noted the existence of “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 Russia.

Price stated, “These are areas that are of overriding importance to us. And there are a few that come to mind,” and while he did not get into specifics, earlier in the week, Biden administration climate envoy John Kerry expressed his particular concern that Putin might not “stay on track” regarding environmental initiatives as a result of the continued conflict.

“I’m concerned about Ukraine because of the people of Ukraine and because of the principles that are at risk, in terms of international law and trying to change boundaries of international law by force,” said Kerry, who then added, “[b]ut it could have a profound negative impact on the climate, obviously… [y] our’e going to lose people’s focus, you’re going to lose certainly big country attention… .”

It did not take long for Kerry’s comments to draw a swift and stinging reaction, with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) tweeting, “Climate change religious zealot John Kerry is worried that the first major ground war in Europe in 80 years & Putin’s threat of nuclear consequences is getting more attention that his climate agenda.”

Conservative commentator Matt Whitlock was equally biting in his take on Kerry’s concerns, saying, “People are getting killed and the Biden administration’s climate envoy – who regularly flies to climate events in a private jet – is concerned first about the impact on the climate fight. Feels like a cartoon character.”

Republican Senate candidate Jake Bequette of Arkansas reacted to Kerry’s alarm by observing that “Democrats are deranged, spoiled children and after 2022 should not be near any position of power for the foreseeable future.” With any luck, that sentiment will travel from his keyboard to God’s ears.

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