US President Joe Biden has characterized his recent conversation with Russian leader Vladimir Putin as "candid and respectful."
"I was candid and respectful. The conversation was candid and respectful," he said Thursday when delivering remarks on the US policy towards Russia in the White House.
"[Russia and the US are] two great powers with significant responsibility for global stability," he pointed out.
The United States is seeking to build constructive cooperation with Russia to overcome the current period in the bilateral relations characterized by tensions, Biden said, TASS reports.
"Now is the time to de-escalate. The way forward is through thoughtful dialogue and diplomatic process. The US is prepared to continue constructively to move forward in that process," he said.
"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," Biden emphasized. He also expressed conviction that both nations want peace. "Russians and Americans are both proud and patriotic people. And I believe that the Russian people like the American people are invested in peaceful and secure future of our world," he noted.
The United States is not intending to kick off more tensions in the relations with Russia, however, it stands ready to impose more sanctions against Moscow, US President added.
"The United States is not looking to kick off a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia. We want a stable and predictable relationship. If Russia continues to interfere with our democracy, I am prepared to take more action to respond," he noted.
Speaking about the anti-Russian sanctions imposed Thursday, the White House occupant underlined, "I was clear with President Putin that we could have gone further. But I chose not to do so, I chose to be proportionate.
Biden has also called on his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to respond proportionately to the newest package of sanctions imposed by Washington against Moscow.
"I urged him to respond appropriately and not to exceed it because we can move as well," Biden acknowledged when speaking about his recent phone call with Putin and the latest sanctions.
At the same time, the US leader in fact voiced hope that Moscow and Washington can be able to leave this episode behind after exchanging restrictions and will make an attempt to stabilize the bilateral relations. "My hope and expectation is we will be able to work out a modus vivendi. But it’s important that we have direct talks and we continue to be in contact," the president stressed.
On Thursday, Biden signed an executive order on introducing sanctions against Russia. In particular, the US is barring American companies from acquiring Russian debt obligations issued by the Bank of Russia, the Russian National Wealth Fund or the Russian Ministry of Finance after June 14, 2021. In addition, the US Department of the Treasury introduced sanctions against 16 organizations and 16 individuals allegedly responsible for Russia’s rumored interference in the US elections. Also, restrictions were placed on five individuals and three legal entities in connection with Crimea, including the peninsula’s officials.
Additionally, the US is expelling 10 diplomats who work at the Russian Embassy in Washington DC. According to American officials, there are "representatives of Russian intelligence" among them.
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated earlier that Moscow would act in accordance with the principle of reciprocity in the relations with Washington. He noted that new US sanctions would not facilitate the organization of a meeting between Putin and Biden proposed by Washington.
On Tuesday, Putin and Biden had the second phone call since the American leader assumed his office in January. The Kremlin reported that the leaders had discussed in detail the current state of bilateral relations and a number of international issues. The White House also revealed that Biden proposed holding an in-person meeting "in a third country" in the phone call with Putin. Later, the US side clarified that it would not change its stance of putting pressure on Russia in light of a possible highest-level summit.
The relations between Moscow and Washington entered a more tense phase after Biden’s controversial interview when he said that the Russian leadership would have to "pay a price" for alleged interference into US elections and agreed with the interviewer’s proposition characterizing Putin as a "killer."