President Joe Biden was conciliatory towards Russia and affirmed that he had a “sincere and respectful” call with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, this week, despite having ordered sanctions and the expulsion of diplomats from that country on Thursday.
In a speech on Russia from the White House, Biden explained that he spoke on the phone with Putin to inform him of these measures.
“When I spoke with President Putin, I expressed to him my belief that personal and direct communication between the two of us is essential to move toward a more effective relationship, and he agreed with that point,” the president said.
Biden has therefore proposed to his Russian counterpart to meet in a third country in Europe, which, according to the U.S. president, the two governments are currently analyzing.
“I believe that the United States and Russia could launch a strategic stability dialogue in search of cooperation on arms control and security,” Biden said, adding that they could work together to address issues such as “nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea,” the pandemic and the climate crisis.
The United States imposed on Thursday a tough battery of sanctions against Russia and expelled ten members of its diplomatic legation over Moscow’s alleged cyberattacks, its interference in the U.S. elections, the occupation of Crimea and rewards for soldiers in Afghanistan.
Biden stressed that during the call he made “clear” to Putin that he could have gone further, but had chosen not to do so in order to act proportionately.
“The United States is not looking to start a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia. We want a stable and predictable relationship,” Biden said.
He also conveyed to Putin in that conversation his concern about Russian military mobilization near the Ukrainian border and in Crimea: “I affirmed our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and strongly urged him to avoid any military action,” he said.
In response to Washington, Russia has summoned U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan, and the Kremlin already warned on Wednesday that sanctions were not going to help the holding of a summit between Putin and Biden.