President Biden said Thursday he could've gone further in imposing sanctions against Russia over its hacking attacks last year—and Biden said he made that clear to President Vladimir Putin. But that wouldn't serve the long-term US goal, NBC reports. "The United States is not looking to kick off a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia," Biden said. "We want a stable, predictable relationship." The president made the comments in brief remarks Thursday afternoon at the White House, Politico reports, hours after the sanctions were announced. "Now is the time to de-escalate," the president said. But the book isn't closed. "If Russia continues to interfere with our democracy," Biden said, "I'm prepared to take further actions to respond. It is my responsibility."
Russia was not pleased, per NBC. "The response to the sanctions will be inescapable," a spokeswoman for its Foreign Ministry said. "Washington must realize that they will have to pay for the degradation of bilateral relations." US Ambassador John Sullivan has been summoned to the ministry, she said. When he warned Putin on Tuesday that the sanctions were on the way, Biden described their conversation as "respectful." And he's proposed the two hold a summit this summer in Europe, per CNBC. The ministry indicated Thursday that such efforts weren't genuine, tweeting, "The US is not ready to put up with the objective reality of a #multipolar world." In a statement, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said, "This is the start of a new US campaign against Russian malign behavior." (Read more US-Russia relations stories.)