Biden on Foreign Policy: A New Approach to Russia?February 7, 2009 # 12:20 pm # International Law # No Comment
The United States will pursue a missile defense plan that has angered the Kremlin, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Saturday, in a signal that the post-cold-war tensions that have flared recently between Washington and Moscow could continue into the new Obama administration.
But Mr. Biden did not say whether the administration would move forward with a plan to place the system in Eastern Europe, which had been the core of recent tensions. He also offered conciliatory words, saying, “It is time to press the reset button, and to revisit the many areas where we can and should be working together with Russia.”
The highly anticipated speech, seen as the first major outline of the new administration’s relations with the world, came just days after Kyrgyzstan’s president announced a decision to close a United States base there that is crucial to the war in Afghanistan, which Mr. Obama has made his biggest foreign policy priority. The announcement was made in Moscow, and many American officials concluded that the Russians had pressured Kyrgyzstan as part of their campaign to reassert control over former Soviet republics.
It was unclear on Saturday if Mr. Biden’s statements on missile defense were meant to suggest that the Obama administration had decided to continue some of the Bush administration’s tougher stands on Russia or were part of a bargaining strategy. Russian cooperation is considered important to American attempts to stop both Iran and North Korea from continuing with their nuclear programs.
I am not sure what to make of this. The White House website does not yet seem to have the complete speech posted. When it is, it will be useful to see the context and full tenor of the speech. I only hope that the “concilatory words” can set the stage for a new approach to Russia. As numerous posts have observed, both the Clinton and Bush administrations have been poking Russia in the eye with a stick. The United States need a truly cooperative approach with Russia.