Washington briefing: Biden comments on Russian economy, Georgian politics

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Saturday August 01, 2009

Then-Senator Joe Biden in Tbilisi with Pres. Saakashvili and his spouse, August 17, 2009. U.S. Embassy in Georgia

Washington - Russia will be forced to cooperate with the United States because Russia will grow economically and politically weaker, Vice President Joe Biden told the Wall Street Journal at the end of his trip to Georgia last week.

Mr. Biden made the comments when asked why he thought the U.S. policy of reaching out to Russia would succeed while the United States continues to oppose a Russian "sphere of influence" in the former Soviet space. Mr. Biden also predicted a Russian banking collapse in the next 15 years.

Speaking to NBC's Meet the Press last Sunday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought to address Russia's irritation at Mr. Biden's comments.

"Every country faces challenges. We have our challenges, Russia has their challenges," she said, but "we view Russia as a great power."

The vice president also expressed doubts about future of democracy in Georgia.

"What worries me most is they don't understand how to establish democracy," Mr. Biden said.

President Mikheil Saakashvili "has the impulses of what was the Rose Revolution. It was: 'We're in the street, you get your a** out of office, or we're going to do something.'

"It was a cry for freedom, and it was a demonstration of a total rejection of the other government. It's a leap from there to say, 'Here's how democratic institutions work.'"

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