This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
U.S. President Joe Biden has said in an address to Congress that he is not seeking to escalate tensions with Russian President Vladimir Putin after imposing fresh sanctions over cyberattacks, election interference, and other malign actions.
“I made very clear to President [Vladimir] Putin that while we don’t seek escalation, their actions have consequences,” Biden said in his first major speech to a joint session of Congress on April 28.
Since coming into office in January, the Biden administration has imposed sanctions on Russia over the poisoning of jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny and for Moscow’s alleged interference in U.S. elections and the SolarWinds hack.
“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 those things and I did respond,” Biden said.
Biden also extended the New START nuclear arms-reduction treaty with Russia and this month proposed a face-to-face meeting with the Russian leader amid spiraling tensions between the two countries.
“But we can also cooperate when it’s in our mutual interests,” Biden said. “As we did when we extended the New START Treaty on nuclear arms — and as we’re working to do on the climate crisis.”
The United States hosted a two-day online climate summit last week, during which Putin said that despite numerous political conflicts between Russia and the West climate change can be unifying issue.
Biden has repeatedly stated that while he will be tough on Russia over any hostile policies, he is also seeking to cooperate where the two sides have mutual interests.
This includes on such issues as nuclear proliferation, climate change, the Iran nuclear deal, North Korea, and fostering peace and stability in Afghanistan.