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Biden on Russia: ‘I told them I would respond and we have’

President Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin “understands” that actions by Moscow against the U.S. will incur consequences, pointing to a host of sanctions imposed on the Russian economy and individuals over election interference and a massive cyber hack of government and private businesses. 

“With regard to Russia, I know it concerns some of you, but I made very clear to President Putin that while we don’t seek escalation — but their actions will have consequences if they turn out to be true, and they turned out to be true,” the president said during a speech to a joint session of Congress. 

“I responded in a direct and proportionate way to Russia’s interference in our elections and cyberattacks on our government and businesses — and they did both of these things and I told them I would respond and we have.”

Biden in April imposed sanctions on Russia targeting the country’s sovereign debt. He also blacklisted a handful of technology companies, expelled Russian diplomats in the U.S. and sanctioned dozens of individuals over election interference and cyberattacks. 

The president spoke with Putin by phone two days before the sanctions were announced and offered an in-person summit in a third-party country “to discuss the full range of issues facing the United States and Russia.” 

The president has sought to walk a fine line in maintaining relations with Russia, a nuclear power and member of the United Nations Security Council. 

Biden hopes to work with Moscow on nuclear nonproliferation efforts and steps to combat climate change.

On Wednesday night, he said the U.S. and Russia “can also cooperate when it’s in our mutual interests.” 

Tags Climate change Joe Biden nuclear nonproliferation Russia United Nations Vladimir Putin

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