Hello, folks. Thanks for coming over.

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 and 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.

Russia and Americans are both proud and patriotic people. And I believe the Russian people, like the American people, are invested in peaceful and a secure future of our world.

During the campaign for my — for the presidency, I was unequivocal 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 they’re an expression of the will of the American people, and we cannot allow a foreign power to interfere in our dome- — democratic process with impunity.

And I told him: If it turned out that the invest- — as I thought — that there was engagement in our elections, that I would — that I’d respond.

Later, during the transition, as we learned more about the SolarWinds cyber intrusion, I made clear that I would 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 was sworn in, to congratulate me, I told him that my administration — we were looking very carefully, now that we had access to all the data, at the issues that — to assess Russia’s role and then determine what response we would make.

When we spoke again this week, I told him that we would shortly be responding in a measured and proportionate way because we had concluded that they had interfered in the election and SolarWinds was totally out of the — inappropriate.

Today, 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 U.S. interests.

I was clear with President Putin that we could have gone further, but I chose not to do so, to be — I chose to be proportionate.

The United States is not looking to kick off a cycle of ecs- — 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.

There are also areas where Russia and 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. That was in the interest of the United States, of Russia, and, quite frankly, of the world, and we got it done.

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 it to occur, and I believe it will — the United States and Russia could launch a strategic stability dialogue to pursue cooperation in arms control and security. We can address critical global challenges that require Russia and 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.

I also made clear to President Clutin [sic] that the United — Putin — that the United States is unwavering in our support of our allies and partners in Europe. In that vein, I expressed concern about Russia’s military buildup on Ukraine’s border and occup- — and in occupied Crimea. I affirmed U.S. support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. And I strongly urged him to refrain from any military action.

Now is the time to de-escalate. The way forward is through thoughtful dialogue and diplomatic process. The U.S. is prepared to continue constructively to move forward that process.

My bottom line is this: Where it is in the interest of the United States to work with Russia, we should and we will. Where Russia seeks to violate the interests of the United States, we will respond. And we’ll always stand in defense of our country, our institutions, our people, and our allies.

Thank you very much for your time.

Q Mr. President, did President Putin give you any indication in that call that he is willing to change his behavior?

THE PRESIDENT: We indicated we would talk about it. I laid out, as I said, very simply — I told — 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 engaged in the activities that he’d 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’ll be able to work out a modus vivendi. And — but it’s important that we have direct talks and that we continue to be in contact with one another.

Thank you.

Q (Cross-talk.)


Q Why not — on Nord Stream, why didn’t you keep going with the sanct- — sanctions on Nord Stream 2, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: 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, when I was even — when I was out of office and even before office, when we — before I left office as Vice President. But that still is an issue that is in play.

Thank you very much.


FACT SHEET: Imposing Costs for Harmful Foreign Activities by the Russian Government

The Biden administration has been clear that the United States desires a relationship with Russia that is stable and predictable. We do not think that we need to continue on a negative trajectory. However, we have also been clear—publicly and privately—that we will defend our national interests and impose costs for Russian Government actions that seek to harm us.

Today the Biden administration is taking actions to impose costs on Russia for actions by its government and intelligence services against U.S. sovereignty and interests.

Executive Order Targeting the Harmful Foreign Activities of the Russian Government

Today, President Biden signed a new sanctions executive order that provides strengthened authorities to demonstrate the Administration’s resolve in responding to and deterring the full scope of Russia’s harmful foreign activities. This E.O. sends a signal that the United States will impose costs in a strategic and economically impactful manner on Russia if it continues or escalates its destabilizing international actions. This includes, in particular, efforts to undermine the conduct of free and fair democratic elections and democratic institutions in the United States and its allies and partners; engage in and facilitate malicious cyber activities against the United States and its allies and partners; foster and use transnational corruption to influence foreign governments; pursue extraterritorial activities targeting dissidents or journalists; undermine security in countries and regions important to United States national security; and violate well-established principles of international law, including respect for the territorial integrity of states.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) carried out the following actions pursuant to the new E.O.:

 Treasury issued a directive that prohibits U.S. financial institutions from participation in the primary market for ruble or non-ruble denominated bonds issued after June 14, 2021 by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation, or the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation; and lending ruble or non-ruble denominated funds to the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation, or the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation. This directive provides authority for the U.S. government to expand sovereign debt sanctions on Russia as appropriate.
 Treasury designated six Russian technology companies that provide support to the Russian Intelligence Services’ cyber program, ranging from providing expertise to developing tools and infrastructure to facilitating malicious cyber activities. These companies are being designated for operating in the technology sector of the Russian Federation economy. We will continue to hold Russia accountable for its malicious cyber activities, such as the SolarWinds incident, by using all available policy and authorities.

Imposing Additional Sanctions

Treasury sanctioned 32 entities and individuals carrying out Russian government-directed attempts to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election, and other acts of disinformation and interference. This action seeks to disrupt the coordinated efforts of Russian officials, proxies, and intelligence agencies to delegitimize our electoral process. The U.S. government will continue to pursue those who engage in such activity.

Treasury, in partnership with the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada, sanctioned eight individuals and entities associated with Russia’s ongoing occupation and repression in Crimea. The Transatlantic community stands united in supporting Ukraine against unilateral Russian provocations along the Line of Contact in eastern Ukraine, in occupied Crimea, and along Ukraine’s borders, as well as agreeing on the need for Russia to immediately cease its military buildup and inflammatory rhetoric.

Reported Afghanistan Bounties

The Administration is responding to the reports that Russia encouraged Taliban attacks against U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan based on the best assessments from the Intelligence Community (IC). Given the sensitivity of this matter, which involves the safety and well-being of our forces, it is being handled through diplomatic, military and intelligence channels. The safety and well-being of U.S. military personnel, and that of our allies and partners, is an absolute priority of the United States.

Expelling Diplomatic Personnel

The United States is expelling ten personnel from the Russian diplomatic mission in Washington, DC. The personnel include representatives of Russian intelligence services.

Further Responses to the SolarWinds Malicious Cyber Activity

Today the United States is formally naming the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), also known as APT 29, Cozy Bear, and The Dukes, as the perpetrator of the broad-scope cyber espionage campaign that exploited the SolarWinds Orion platform and other information technology infrastructures. The U.S. Intelligence Community has high confidence in its assessment of attribution to the SVR.

The SVR’s compromise of the SolarWinds software supply chain gave it the ability to spy on or potentially disrupt more than 16,000 computer systems worldwide. The scope of this compromise is a national security and public safety concern. Moreover, it places an undue burden on the mostly private sector victims who must bear the unusually high cost of mitigating this incident.

Today, the National Security Agency, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are jointly issuing a cybersecurity advisory, “Russian SVR Targets U.S. and Allied Networks,” that provides specific details on software vulnerabilities that the SVR uses to gain access to victim devices and networks. The advisory also provides specific steps that network defenders can take to identify and defend against the SVR’s malicious cyber activity.

Additionally, the SVR’s compromise of SolarWinds and other companies highlights the risks posed by Russia’s efforts to target companies worldwide through supply chain exploitation. Those efforts should serve as a warning about the risks of using information and communications technology and services (ICTS) supplied by companies that operate or store user data in Russia or rely on software development or remote technical support by personnel in Russia. The U.S. government is evaluating whether to take action under Executive Order 13873 to better protect our ICTS supply chain from further exploitation by Russia.

Supporting a Global Cybersecurity Approach

The United States continues to strongly affirm the importance of an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable Internet. Russia’s actions run counter to that goal, which is shared by many of our allies and partners. To strengthen our collective approach to bolstering cybersecurity, we are announcing two additional steps:

 First, the United States is bolstering its efforts to promote a framework of responsible state behavior in cyberspace and to cooperate with allies and partners to counter malign cyber activities. We are providing a first-of-its kind course for policymakers worldwide on the policy and technical aspects of publicly attributing cyber incidents, which will be inaugurated this year at the George C. Marshall Center in Garmisch, Germany. We are also bolstering our efforts through the Marshall Center to provide training to foreign ministry lawyers and policymakers on the applicability of international law to state behavior in cyberspace and the non-binding peacetime norms that were negotiated in the United Nations and endorsed by the UN General Assembly.
 Second, we are reinforcing our commitment to collective security in cyberspace. The Department of Defense is taking steps to incorporate additional allies, including the UK, France, Denmark, and Estonia, into the planning for CYBER FLAG 21-1, which is an exercise designed to improve our defensive capabilities and resiliency in cyberspace. CYBER FLAG 21-1 will build a community of defensive cyber operators and improve overall capability of the United States and allies to identify, synchronize, and respond in unison against simulated malicious cyberspace activities targeting our critical infrastructure and key resources.

The United States is committed to the security of our allies and partners; these efforts are intended to reinforce again our commitment to that bedrock principle.

titre documents joints

"Foreign Threats to the 2020 U.S. Federal Elections"

National Intelligence Council, March 10, 2021.

(PDF - 18.9 MiB)