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April 15, 2021, 5:42 p.m. EDT

Biden: ‘If Russia continues to interfere with our democracy, I’m prepared to take further actions’

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By Victor Reklaitis

President Joe Biden on Thursday offered more warnings to Russia, while also describing his administration’s latest moves as “proportionate” and expressing an interest to work with Moscow on some issues.

The president’s remarks followed his administration’s rollout of new sanctions on Russia for election interference, hacking and other “malign activities,” including the current military buildup on Ukraine’s borders and the persecution of dissidents such as Alexei Navalny. The sanctions include moves against Russian technology companies accused of supporting their country’s intelligence services, as well as prohibiting U.S. financial institutions from participating in the primary market for Russian sovereign debt.

See: U.S. slaps new sanctions on Russia over election meddling and hacking

“We could have gone further, but I chose not to do so. I chose to be proportionate,” Biden said. “The United States is not looking to kick off a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia. We want a stable, predictable relationship.”

But the president then added: “If Russia continues to interfere with our democracy, I’m prepared to take further actions to respond.”

Biden on Tuesday spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The White House said he expressed concern over the military buildup on Ukraine’s borders, and he proposed a summit meeting to discuss the full range of U.S.-Russia issues.

If the summit occurs, the U.S. and Russia could “launch a strategic stability dialogue,” Biden said in his speech on Thursday. “We can address critical, global challenges that require Russia an the United States to work together, including reining in nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea, ending this pandemic globally and meeting the existential crisis of climate change.”

The new sanctions on Russia weren’t universally praised in Washington. John Bolton, a hawk who served as national security adviser in the Trump administration before falling out with former President Donald Trump, said the actions don’t go far enough.

“Today’s sanctions fall short. Specifically, there is no mention of the Nord Stream II pipeline,” Bolton said in a tweet , referring to a subsea pipeline for natural gas being built between Russia and Germany that’s been the target of U.S. sanctions threats.

When asked about the pipeline following his speech, Biden said he has opposed it for a long time, but it’s “a complicated issue affecting our allies in Europe.”

A month ago, the president said he thinks Putin is a killer and warned that his Russian counterpart will “pay a price” after an  American intelligence assessment  said Putin authorized operations last year intended to hurt Biden’s White House campaign and exacerbate tension in the U.S.

U.S. stocks /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -0.50% closed higher Thursday , with the Dow /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.31% topping 34,000 for the first time, following better-than-expected readings on retails sales and jobless claims.

/zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime
US : S&P US
4,153.05
-20.80 -0.50%
Volume: 1.45B
May 17, 2021 2:49p
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/zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime
US : Dow Jones Global
34,276.37
-105.76 -0.31%
Volume: 184.05M
May 17, 2021 2:49p
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