Biden Warns Of Russian Threat To World Order, Election Meddling
In his final major speech in office, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said that Russia poses the biggest threat to the "liberal international order" and warned that "further" Russian attempts to meddle in Western elections should be expected.
Biden spoke on January 18 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, amid allegations that Russia meddled in the U.S. presidential election.
Earlier this month, U.S. intelligence agencies said they had concluded "with high confidence" that Russian President Vladimir Putin "ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election."
They also charged that Putin and the Russian government "developed a clear preference" for U.S. President-elect Donald Trump over his rival in the November 8 vote, Hillary Clinton.
With several European countries scheduled to choose new parliaments or presidents this year, Biden warned that "we should expect further attempts by Russia to meddle in the democratic process."
"It will occur again, I promise you," he added. "And again the purpose is clear: to collapse the liberal international order."
Moscow denies any interference in the U.S. vote, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on January 17 that claims that Moscow is staging cyberattacks to meddle in European elections are "dreamed up."
Biden said China and Iran also "equate their success with a fracturing of the liberal international order," but he insisted that "this movement is principally led by Russia."
"Under President Putin, 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," the vice president also said.
"We see it in their aggression against their neighbors, sending so-called 'little green men' across the border to stir violence and strains of separatism in Ukraine," Biden said.
He also cited Moscow's "propaganda and false information campaigns," its use of "energy as a weapon," and "cyberintrusions against political parties and individuals in the United States."
Biden called on the United States and European Union to "lead the fight" to stand up to Putin and protect liberal values, and insisted that NATO must remain a key element in transatlantic relations.
Without addressing any politician directly, Biden also warned of a "dangerous willingness to revert to political small-mindedness, to the same nationalist, protectionist, isolationist agendas that led the world to consume itself in war during the past century."
Trump, who takes office on January 20, has called NATO "obsolete," charging that it has not done enough to fight terrorism, but has also said the alliance is still "very important" to him.
He has also said he wants to improve troubled relations with Moscow.
U.S.-Russia ties have sunk to lows unseen since the Cold War amid rancor over Moscow's seizure of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, its backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine, its involvement in the Syrian conflict, and other issues.
Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.