The U.S. and Russia entered a new phase of heightened tensions Thursday after President Biden announced punishing sanctions over cyberattacks, election interference and threats against U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
The decision to impose sanctions comes as Biden is attempting to strike a delicate balance of forcefully confronting Russian President Valdimir Putin and seeking open communication to establish a “stable and predictable” relationship.
“Our objective here is not to escalate. Our objective here is to impose costs for what we feel are unacceptable actions by the Russian government,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a briefing with reporters Thursday. “We can’t predict what the impact will be, but we still believe that when there’s unacceptable behavior, we should put consequences in place.”
The U.S. is by far the stronger power when compared to Russia’s economy and political standing on the world stage. But Moscow’s formidable nuclear arsenal, its seat on the United Nations Security Council and its influence in the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement make cooperation necessary.