President Biden said Thursday that the U.S. doesn’t seek “a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia” after the administration slapped dozens of sanctions on Moscow over its interference in the 2020 presidential election and a massive cyberattack.
“I was clear with President Putin that we could have gone further,” Mr. Biden said in an announcement in the East Room at the White House. “I chose to be proportionate. The United States is not looking to kick off a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia.”
The president signed actions earlier Thursday to expel 10 Russian diplomats from Washington, prohibit U.S. financial institutions from trading in Russian state debt, and freezing assets of dozens of individuals and entities involved in the SolarWinds hack and election meddling.
Russian officials warned on Thursday that Moscow will certainly retaliate in response to the U.S. sanctions.
Mr. Biden said he told Mr. Putin in a phone call on Tuesday to “refrain from any military action” against Ukraine or in the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.
“Now is the time to de-escalate,” Mr. Biden said. “We want a stable and predictable, predictable relationship.”
He said the U.S. sanctions are “measured and appropriate,” in keeping with his campaign promises. Mr. Biden warned that if Russia continues to interfere in U.S. elections, “I’m prepared to take further action to respond.”