Biden, Back from Georgia, Speaks Out Against Russian Invasion
By Jonathan Weisman
With his name still buzzing among the vice presidential prognosticators, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. returned tonight from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia talking trash, but his target was not Sen. John McCain or even President Bush.
It was Russia.
"I have long sought to help Russia realize its extraordinary potential as a force for progress in the international community, and have supported legislative efforts intended to forge a more constructive relationship with the Kremlin. But Russia's actions in Georgia will have consequences," the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said in a statement. "Russia's failure to keep its word and withdraw troops from Georgia risks the country's standing as part of the international community. That is not the future the United States or Europe want -- but it is the future Russia may get."
Biden's prominent role in the speculation over Sen. Barack Obama's choice for running mate stems from his heft in foreign policy, but it also comes from a belief in Democratic circles that Biden will do what the other vice presidential finalists -- and to some extent Obama himself -- will not do: Fight back hard.
Some Democrats have been pleading with Obama to use McCain's tough response to the Russian invasion of Georgia to paint him as a trigger-happy interventionist who would risk bringing a war-weary nation into military conflict in regions where the United States has no interest.
For those Democrats, Biden's conclusions from his trip may be a disappointment.
Consultations with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgian Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze, Georgian Parliamentary Speaker David Bakradze and U.S. Ambassador to Georgia John Tefft left the Democratic senator seemingly as angry as McCain is.
"I left the country convinced that Russia's invasion of Georgia may be the one of the most significant event to occur in Europe since the end of communism. The claims of Georgian atrocities that provided the pretext for Russia's invasion are rapidly being disproved by international observers, and the continuing presence of Russian forces in the country has severe implications for the broader region. The war that began in Georgia is no longer about that country alone. It has become a question of whether and how the West will stand up for the rights of free people throughout the region," Biden said in a statement.
Posted at 10:14 PM ET on Aug 18, 2008
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