President Biden announced sanctions on Russia and diplomatic expulsions on Thursday in an attempt to punish Moscow for its interference in the 2020 U.S. election, its SolarWinds cyberattack and its occupation in Crimea.
JOE BIDEN: Russia and Americans are both proud and patriotic people. And I believe the Russian people, like the American people, are invested in peaceful and secure the future of our world. During the campaign for the presidency, I was unequivocal that if I was elected president I would respond to any attempt to influence our elections, the last election, because elections are sacred. They’re sovereign undertakings, and they’re the expression of the will of the American people. And we cannot allow a foreign power to interfere in our democratic process with impunity. And I told them if it turned out that they, as I thought, that there was engagement in our elections, that I would respond.
Later, during a transition, as we learned more about the SolarWind cyber intrusion, I made clear that I’d respond once we determined who had, in fact, conducted a hack on the scope and scale that occurred. When President Putin called me in January after I was sworn in, to congratulate me, I told him that my administration would be looking very carefully now that we had access to all the data and at the issues that to assess Russia’s role and then determine what response we would make. When we spoke again this week, I told him that we would shortly be responding in a measured and a proportionate way because we concluded that they had interfered in the election and SolarWinds was totally inappropriate.
Today, I have approved several steps, including expulsion of several Russian officials, as a consequence of their actions. I’ve also signed an executive order authorizing new measures, including sanctions to address specific harmful actions that Russia has taken against US interests. I was clear with President Putin that we could have gone further, but I chose not to do so. I chose to be proportionate.
The United States is not looking to kick off a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia. We want a stable, predictable relationship. If Russia continues to interfere with our democracy, I’m prepared to take further action to respond. It is my responsibility as President of the United States to do so. But throughout our long history of competition, our two countries have been able to find ways to manage tensions and to keep them from escalating out of control.