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Putin giving a speech in Sevastapol, Crimea, in 2020. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

President Biden reaffirmed U.S. support for the people of Ukraine and vowed to hold Russia accountable for its aggression in a statement on Friday, the 7th anniversary of Russia's 2014 invasion of Crimea.

Why it matters: The statement reflects the aggressive approach Biden is taking to Russia, which he classified on the campaign trail as an "opponent" and "the biggest threat" to U.S. security and alliances.

  • It's also a departure from his most recent predecessors, who avoided direct confrontation with the Kremlin.
  • Former President Trump reportedly told G7 leaders in 2018 that Crimea is Russian because the people who live there speaks Russian, and frequently blamed former President Obama for being "outsmarted" by Putin during the 2014 invasion.

What they're saying: "The United States continues to stand with Ukraine and its allies and partners today, as it has from the beginning of this conflict.  On this somber anniversary, we reaffirm a simple truth: Crimea is Ukraine," Biden said in a statement.

  • "The United States does not and will never recognize Russia’s purported annexation of the peninsula, and we will stand with Ukraine against Russia’s aggressive acts," he continued.
  • "The United States still believes in the promise of Ukraine and we support all those working towards a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous future for their country."

The big picture: Biden held his first call with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, using the conversation as an opportunity to press the Russian leader on the arrest of opposition leader Alexey Navalny and the Russia-linked hack on U.S. government agencies.

  • Beyond Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine, Biden must also confront the Kremlin on a range of issues, including its interference in U.S. elections and allegations of bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
  • Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is hoping to reset the U.S.-Ukraine relationship under the new administration and with President Biden — whom he has yet to meet. Biden was in charge of the Obama administration's Ukraine policy as vice president and championed anti-corruption forms.

Go deeper: Biden's Russia challenge

Go deeper

Biden revokes Trump's pandemic ban on certain forms of legal immigration

President Biden with signing executive orders in the White House on Feb. 24. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

President Biden rolled back former President Trump's suspension of certain forms of legal immigration because of the coronavirus pandemic, saying it "does not advance the interests of the United States." 

Why it matters: Business groups, including the technology industry, had repeatedly called on the Trump administration to rescind the suspensions on work visas because they complicated recruiting and retaining foreign professionals seeking to work in the U.S.

11 mins ago - Health

Global COVID-19 death toll surpasses 3 million

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The global toll of confirmed deaths from COVID-19 surpassed 3 million on Saturday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

By the numbers: The U.S. has seen more deaths (566,238) than any other country, followed by Brazil (368,749) and Mexico (211,693).

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
1 hour ago - Technology

Meet your doctor's AI assistant

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Artificial intelligence is breaking into the doctor's office, with new models that can transcribe, analyze and even offer predictions based on written notes and conversations between physicians and their patients.

Why it matters: AI models can increasingly be trained on what we tell our doctors, now that they're starting to understand our written notes and even our conversations. That will open up new possibilities for care — and new concerns about privacy.