04:41 GMT15 April 2021
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    Washington has ramped up threats of new sanctions and other restrictions against both Russia and China in recent weeks, characterising both nations as potential adversaries which threaten the US-dominated "rules-based international order." President Joe Biden has also resorted to using derisive epithets to describe the two countries' leaders.

    US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that the US will need to be able to act against China "from a position of strength" as the relationship between the two countries becomes more strained. 

    "There are increasingly adversarial aspects to the relationship, there are certainly competitive ones," Blinken said, speaking to CNN on Sunday.

    The diplomat suggested that "dealing with" the challenges posed by China will require the US to develop a comprehensive approach in coordination with its allies.

    In the interview, Blinken also touched on US relations with Russia, saying Washington was wrapping up its review of alleged Russian "malign activities" and would make Moscow pay a price.

    "We've seen across the board these different examples of Russia's aggression...And the president has been very clear that there will be consequences for these acts. We are in the process of completing reviews of the cyberattack through SolarWinds on us, the interference in the election, the use of a chemical weapon to try to murder [opposition vlogger] Alexei Navalny, we've already spoken and acted on that, the bounties on US forces in Afghanistan. There will be costs and consequences. And I think you're seen as well, and what I heard here at NATO was a shared concern about Russia's actions across the board, and a shared commitment to stand together against them," he said.

    Russia has vocally denied the range of US allegations levelled against it by the Biden administration in recent weeks, citing agenda-driven rhetoric and a lack of hard evidence in the hacking, election meddling, and Navalny poisoning claims, and dismissing outright the "Taliban bounties" claims reported by the US media, together with senior Trump administration officials and the Afghani militant group itself.

     

    In his CNN interview, Blinken also touched on Nord Stream 2, warning that the US had explained its position to its German allies, and was ready to slap new sanctions on the project. Asked if there was anything the US itself could do to actually stop the energy infrastructure mega project from being completed, the secretary said it's up to the countries building it.

    "Ultimately that is up to those who are trying to build the pipeline and complete it. We just wanted to make sure that our position, our opposition to the pipeline, was well understood," he said.

    Blinken stressed that when it comes to both Russia and China, coordination with allies would make US actions against these countries more effective.

    "Whether it's regard to Russia, whether it's regard to other countries that pose a challenge, we are stronger and more effective when we are able to do it in a coordinated fashion. You've seen examples of that just in the past week with coordinated sanctions by the United States and the European Union, the UK, Canada when it comes for example to China and its human rights abuses in Xinjiang. You've seen that in the case of Russia as well. But we will take the steps necessary to defend our interests," the secretary said.

    Biden administration officials' increasingly hostile tone toward Russia and China comes amid a deepening of ties between the two countries, and the formation of a strategic triangle involving Beijing, Moscow and Tehran as Washington escalates sanctions pressure, trade restrictions and sabre-rattling in the form of troop redeployments and naval exercises. Last week, a Global Times editorial suggested that US attacks on Russia and China were related to a "sense of crisis" stemming "from the decline of [America's] comprehensive competitiveness," and to the deepening of the "comprehensive strategic partnership" emerging between Beijing and Moscow.

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