When U.S. Vice President Joe Biden Joe Biden entered office in 2009, he stressed the need a “reset” and cooperation between the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Russia. But as Vladimir Putin’s actions make Russia’s imperialistic ambitions clear, Biden is now urging a different approach.
Speaking at Davos on Wednesday, Biden delivered a warning about the state of world affairs, denouncing what he framed as fundamentally different visions between the West and Russia over the future of the world order.
“Russia is working with every tool available to them to whittle away at the edges of the European project, test for fault lines among Western nations, and return to a politics defined by spheres of influence,” Biden said at the World Economic Forum, during his final major speech in his official capacity.
With President-elect Donald Trump set to be inaugurated Friday, the mood among the world’s economic elite is one of uncertainty and concern. Biden’s final message was delivered with them in mind.
The Vice President warned of a continued clash over Western ideals, implicitly rejected platforms laid out by Trump and figures like him, and stressed the importance of NATO in the face of Russian aggression.
“I’m here today to issue a call to action: We cannot wait for others to write the future they hope to see,” he said. “The United States and Europe has to lead the fight to defend the values that have brought us to where we are today.”
Biden went directly at the U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusions that the Russian government, instructed by President Vladimir Putin and his top allies, meddled in the US presidential election with the goal of boosting Trump and warned of an imminent between the West and Russia.
“Their purpose is clear — to collapse the liberal international order,” Biden said. “Simply put, Russia has a different vision for the future, which they are pursuing across the board.”
He continued: “They seek a return to a world where the strong impose their will through military might, corruption, or criminality — while weaker neighbors fall in line.”
Biden stressed the NATO alliance was perhaps more important now than ever, a statement that came days after Trump had again called it “obsolete” and argued many of its European nations should contribute more financially.
“The single greatest bulwark for our transatlantic partnership is the unshakable commitment of the United States to all our NATO allies,” he said. “An attack on one is an attack on all. That can never be called into question.”
Biden’s speech ended with something of a metaphor. He was nearly finished with his remarks when the lights onstage abruptly went dark, only his silhouette remaining visible. And though the lights went out on Biden — and as they dim on the Obama administration — the vice president suggested he would remain a voice in the conversation.
“I will continue to use my voice and my power as a citizen, doing whatever I can to keep our transatlantic alliance strong and vibrant, ” he said. “Because our common future depends upon it.”
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