FALMOUTH, England (CNN)President Joe Biden told a hangar of US troops on Wednesday he was in Europe to defend the very concept of democracy, setting high stakes for his first presidential trip abroad and warning Russian President Vladimir Putin he planned to raise touchy issues during their upcoming summit.
“I’m headed to the G7, then to the NATO ministerial and then to meet with Mr. Putin to let him know what I want him to know,” Biden said at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, England — home to an American refueling wing and the site of Biden’s first presidential speech on foreign soil.
Biden spoke forcefully about restoring American alliances in Europe, describing them as a cornerstone of global security. And he said he wouldn’t hold back in his meeting with Putin.
“We’re not seeking conflict with Russia. We want a stable predictable relationship,” he said. “I’ve been clear: the United States will respond in a robust and meaningful way if the Russian government engages in harmful activities. We’ve already demonstrated that. I’m going to communicate that there are consequences for violating the sovereignty of democracies in the United States and Europe and elsewhere.”
Before he meet
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