Apr 15, 2021
Joe Biden Speech on Russia After Issuing Sanctions Transcript April 15
President Joe Biden spoke about relations with Russia after issuing sanctions on the country on April 15, 2021. Read the transcript of his speech briefing here.
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President Joe Biden: (00:01)
Good afternoon, everyone. Earlier this week, I spoke with President Putin of Russia about the nature of our relationship, the relationship between our two countries. And I was candid, respectful. The conversation was candid and respectful. Two great powers with significant responsibility for global stability. And President Putin and I have had a significant responsibility to steward that relationship. I take that responsibility very seriously as I’m sure he does.
President Joe Biden: (00:33)
Russia and Americans are both proud and patriotic people. And I believe the Russian people like the American people are invested in a peaceful and a secure future of our world. During the campaign for the presidency, I was on equivocal that if I was elected president I’d respond to any attempt to influence our elections, the last election. And because elections are sacred, they’re sovereign undertakings and are an expression of the will of the American people. And we can not allow a foreign power to interfere in our democratic process with impunity.
President Joe Biden: (01:11)
And I told them if it turned out as I thought that there was engagement in our elections that I’d respond. Later during the transition as we learn more about the SolarWinds cyber intrusion, I made clear that I 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 sworn in and 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 to assess Russia’s role, and then determine what response we would make.
President Joe Biden: (01:54)
When we spoke again this week, I told them 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 and I’ve 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 interest.
President Joe Biden: (02:27)
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 actions 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.
President Joe Biden: (03:05)
There are also areas where Russia in the United States can and should work together. For example, in the earliest days of my administration, we were able to move quickly to extend for five years the New START Treaty and maintain that key element of nuclear stability between our nations. And that was in the interest of the United States of Russia, and quite frankly of the world. And we got it done.
President Joe Biden: (03:30)
When I spoke to President Putin, I expressed my belief that communication between the two of us personally and directly was to be essential in moving forward to a more effective relationship, and he agreed on that point. To that end, I proposed that we meet in person this summer in Europe for a summit to address a range of issues facing both of our countries. Our teams are discussing that possibility right now. And out of that summit were to occur and I believe it will, the United States and Russia could launch a strategic stability dialogue to pursue cooperation and arms control and security.
President Joe Biden: (04:09)
We can address critical global challenges that require Russia and the United States work together, including reining in nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea, ending this pandemic globally and meeting the existential crisis of climate change. I also made it clear to President Putin that the United States is unwavering in our support of our allies and partners in Europe. In that vein, I expressed concerned about Russia’s military buildup on Ukraine’s border and in occupied Crimea. I affirmed US support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and I strongly urged him to refrain from any military action.
President Joe Biden: (04:53)
Now is the time to deescalate. The way forward is through thoughtful dialogue and diplomatic process. The US is prepared to continue constructively to move forward that process. My bottom line is this. Where there’s an interest in the United States to work with Russia, we should and we will. Where Russia seeks to violate the interest of the United States, we will respond. We’ll always stand in defense of our country, our institutions, our people, and our allies. Thank you very much for your time.
Speaker 2: (05:30)
Mr. President, did President Putin give you any indication in that call that he was willing to change his behavior?
President Joe Biden: (05:37)
We indicated that we would talk about it. I laid out as I said, very simply I said during the campaign, I said when he called to congratulate me on being elected, I said subsequent to that, this last conversation that if it turned out that he was in activities that he had been accused of in cybersecurity and SolarWinds and interfering in our elections, that I would respond in kind. I urged him to respond appropriately, not to exceed it because we can move as well. My hope and expectation is we we’ll be able to work out a modus vivendi, but it’s important that we have direct talks and that we continue to be in contact with one another. Thank you.
President Joe Biden: (06:25)
President Joe Biden: (06:28)
Speaker 3: (06:30)
Why not Nord Stream? [inaudible 00:06:36] lower the sanctions on Nord Stream 2, Mr. President?
President Joe Biden: (06:36)
Nord Stream 2 is a complicated issue affecting our allies in Europe. I’ve been opposed to Nord Stream 2 for a long time from the beginning even when I was out of office and even before office, before I left office as vice president. But that’s still is an issue that is in play. Thank you very much.