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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.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Virginia attorney general fires Jan. 6 investigator from university post

McIntire Amphitheater at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. Photo: Robert Knopes/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The lead investigator for the Jan. 6 House select committee investigating the Capitol riot has been fired from his position as the University of Virginia's counsel by the state's new Republican attorney general, per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: Democrats say the removal of Tim Heaphy from his post after some three years while he's on leave from the university to investigate the insurrection is likely "retribution" for the House probe — an accusation strongly denied by the office of state Attorney General Jason Miyares (R).

5 hours ago - World

Taiwan's military scrambles jets after detecting 39 Chinese warplanes

J-20 stealth fighter jets in Zhuhai in the Guangdong Province of China last year. Photo: Chen Jimin/China News Service via Getty Images

Taiwan's defense force said 39 Chinese warplanes flew into its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Sunday.

Why it matters: The largest Chinese air force incursion into the zone since October came a day after the U.S. and Japanese navies conducted a joint exercise in the Philippine Sea.