Biden Nat'l Security Adviser Says Goal With Russia 'Stable Predictable Relationship' National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan talks to reporters at the White House on June 07, 2021. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
By Fran Beyer | Sunday, 20 June 2021 11:34 AM
National security adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday the Biden administration's goal with Russia is “a stable predictable relationship” that will “reduce the risk” of harming American interests.
In an interview on ABC News’ “This Week," Sullivan dismissed criticism by GOP House minority leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California that President Joe Biden didn’t confront Russia’s President Vladimir Putin at their Geneva summit about cyberattacks.
Former President Donald Trump, “who Leader McCarthy strongly supported, unquestioningly laid down in front of Vladimir Putin, sided with Vladimir Putin against our own intelligence community at a summit in Helsinki,” Sullivan said.
“This summit in Geneva was a study in contrast,” he continued. “You had a strong, confident, assertive American president, both in the room and in the press conference afterward, standing up for American interests and values and doing so in a way we believe that will ultimately enhance the security of the United States.”
According to Sullivan, Biden has been “pretty clear from the outset that he wants to be able to have a space, to be able to engage directly, privately, candidly with President Putin and then to determine whether the actions that Russia takes in the months ahead match up with the discussions that took place in Geneva.”
“That is where we will turn our focus at this point,” he said. “And our goal, at the end of the day, is a stable, predictable relationship where we're not going to be friends by any stretch of the imagination, but where we can reduce the risk of escalation that would ultimately harm America's interests.”
Sullivan also said there’s “still a fair distance” to go on “key issues” between the United States and Iran on its nuclear program, “including on sanctions and on the nuclear commitments that Iran has to make.”
“But the arrow has been pointed in the right direction in terms of the work that’s getting done in Vienna,” he said, referring to talks between the United States and Iran. “We will see if the Iranian negotiators come to the next round of talks, prepared to make the hard choices that they have to make in order for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iran nuclear deal, to be reinstated.”
“The whole question of which sanctions will be lifted is currently being negotiated in Vienna, and I’m not going to conduct those negotiations in public,” he added. “What I will say is that the United States retains the right even under the JCPOA, even under the Iran nuclear deal, to impose sanctions for reasons other than the nuclear file, for terrorism, for human rights, for missile development.”
He added that the “ultimate decision for whether or not to go back into the deal lies with Iran's supreme leader [Ali Khamenei]. And he was the same person before this election as he is after the election.”
“It lies with him and his decision as to whether he wants to go down the path of diplomacy here or face mounting pressure not just from the United States, but the rest of the international community,” Sullivan said.