Joe Biden used his final speech as vice president to get harsh on Russia

Hello, goodbye.
Hello, goodbye.
Image: World Economic Forum / Ciaran McCrickard
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US vice president Joe Biden defended NATO, extolled the virtues of transatlantic cooperation, and took a firm stand against Russia in a speech at the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos.

With president-elect Donald Trump’s criticisms of NATO rattling Europe, Biden came to the military alliance’s defense. “It’s a sacred obligation we have embraced—an attack on one is an attack on all—that can never be placed in question,” he said. He argued that support for NATO was bipartisan, citing Republican senator John McCain as an example of someone whose support would be unwavering.

The outgoing vice president also took sharp shots at Russia, claiming it was leading the efforts to dismantle the international liberal order. Biden warned that Russia would interfere in European elections this year, in an effort “to collapse the liberal international order” and argued that Russia’s vision of the future was a dark one.

“Simply put, Russia has a different vision for the future, which they are pursuing across the board,” Biden said. “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.”

With less than 48 hours left as vice president, Biden sounded like he was making an indirect plea to president-elect Donald Trump to honor the system that has made Europe and the US secure since World War II, and to not to forget the lessons learned during that war. He said that no country can act alone, and that cooperation and coordination were critical to defending democracy.

“If we don’t fight for our values, no one else will,” Biden said.

He never mentioned Trump by name, but expressed deep disagreement with his approach: “The impulse to hunker down, shut the gates, build walls, and exit at this moment is precisely the wrong answer.”

Biden said that truth “holds no inherent power” in a world where demagogues hold sway, and that the US needed to do the day-today work of forging alliances and defending democracy. “We cannot wait for others to write the future they hope to see,” he said.