Biden sets tough tone on Russia as he arrives in Britain for first foreign trip

US president arrives for G7 summit and trips to Belgium and Switzerland

US President Joe Biden arrived in the UK on Wednesday evening for his first international trip, aiming to stand firm with Russia and rebuild alliances weakened under the Trump administration.

"We're going to make it clear that the United States is back and democracies of the world are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges and the issues that matter most to our future," Mr Biden said at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, home to the 100th Air Refuelling Wing.

Mr Biden is eager to reassert the US on the world stage, steadying European allies deeply shaken by his predecessor Donald Trump and pushing democracy as the only bulwark to rising forces of authoritarianism.

With a huge American flag behind him, Mr Biden set a tough tone for his highly anticipated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying he would "let him know what I want him to know" in Geneva next week.

"We're not seeking conflict with Russia," he clarified.

"We want a stable and predictable relationship ... but I've been clear: the United States will respond in a robust and meaningful way if the Russian government engages in harmful activities."

He is due to hold talks with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Cornwall on Thursday to launch a new Atlantic Accord before the three-day G7 leaders summit.

As he left Washington, Mr Biden said the trip would demonstrate the strength of the transatlantic alliance, "making clear to Putin and China that Europe and the United States are tight".

Mr Biden is also expected to announce the next steps in America's role in fighting the pandemic, including a reported purchase of 500 million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses to be shared globally.

From Britain, he will travel on to Belgium for Nato and EU-US summits and then to Switzerland for the meeting with the Russian leader.

"I’m so proud to be here with all of you to kick off my first overseas trip as president," Mr Biden said in his address to the military members.

The president thanked members of the US Air Force for “an amazing job keeping Covid-19 under control on the base”.

The crowd rose to their feet shortly before 8pm in preparation for his arrival.

Mr Biden, also the commander-in-chief of the US military, told the servicemen and women to stand “at ease” and added: “I keep forgetting I’m president.”

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