Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding President Biden’s upcoming meeting with Vladimir Putin and the need to combat cyber-crime, harden our cybersecurity, and condemn Russian aggression in the cyberspace. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
President Biden’s first foreign trip has projected a welcome sight to the world: an American president embracing our allies and bringing them together to confront our common adversaries. Already, the President’s visit to G7 has yielded results: a commitment to counter China’s rapacious economic policies and unwinding a longstanding dispute over tariffs and trade with the European Union.
Now, after meeting with our allies at both the G7 and at the NATO summit in Brussels, the President will meet tomorrow with Vladimir Putin.
From the occupation in Crimea, to violating political and human rights within his own borders, to interfering in democratic elections across the Western world, to imprisoning those that expose his brutal, undemocratic regime, Vladimir Putin has spent the past decade interfering and destabilizing the world order.
And for four years, former President Trump turned a blind eye and gave Putin a free pass.
In the history of our country, Americans had never seen a president of the United States support an adversary the way Trump supported President Putin on that stage in Helsinki nearly three years ago. We all remember President Trump standing next to Vladimir Putin and taking the word of a Russian intelligence officer over America’s intelligence agencies.
Trump not only defended Putin, repeatedly, from accusations of election interference, he actually announced—if you can believe this, it’s stranger than fiction—that the U.S. and Russia would set up a joint cybersecurity unit. Even Sen. Graham said that it wasn’t “the dumbest idea [he’d] ever heard, but it was pretty close.”
Now, President Biden must take the exact opposite approach. The U.S. must approach Vladimir Putin with a firm hand and demand accountability in a way that President Trump never did. I expect President Biden will do exactly that.
One issue I’m particularly concerned about is cybersecurity and the rise of ransomware attacks on the critical infrastructure in the U.S. Many of those cybercriminals, unsurprisingly, may be hiding out in Putin’s Russia or potentially connected to Putin’s intelligence agencies.
Here at home, I’ve called on Congress to significantly boost funding for our cyber-fighting agencies, and asked our Senate Committees to study if we need new legislation to help counter the threat of cyber-attacks.
Abroad, President Biden has an opportunity to pressure Putin directly to put an end to Russia-supported cybercrime. I expect he will.
The President has—smartly—made these issues a priority among our NATO allies, announcing a host of joint actions to combat cyber-crime, harden our cybersecurity, and condemn Russian aggression in the cyberspace.
It’s time to take the issue directly to Vladimir Putin himself.
For four years, President Trump berated our allies while emboldening, and sometimes embracing, the world’s dictators and autocrats, Vladimir Putin above all.
Already, President Biden’s first foreign trip is a welcome turn of the page in America’s relationship with the world.