After returning home from his weekend visit to the Republic of Georgia, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) said that Russia’s invasion of Georgia was based on false claims of atrocities, and that this was one of the most significant events to occur in Europe since the end of communism. Biden also promised to work with the Bush administration to push through $1 billion in emergency aid for Georgia.
“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,” Biden said.
He stressed that his war is no longer about Georgia, but whether or not the West will stand up for the rights of free people, “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. The outcome there will determine whether we realize the grand ambition of a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace.”
He also called for the Russian troops to get out, and international peace keepers to come in, “Russia must make good on President Medvedev’s commitment to immediately withdraw Russian troops to their positions before the current fighting began. We also need a truly independent and international peacekeeping force in Georgia’s conflict regions. And we must help the people of Georgia to rebuild their country and preserve its democratic institutions.”
Biden proposed $1 billion in emergency aid for Georgia, “When Congress reconvenes, I intend to work with the Administration to seek Congressional approval for $1 billion in emergency assistance for Georgia, with a substantial down payment on that aid to be included in the Congress’ next supplemental spending bill. This money will help the people of Georgia recover from the damage that has been inflicted on their economy and send a clear message that the United States will not abandon this young democracy. I hope this $1 billion commitment will be matched by others in the international community.
The Delaware Senator said that Russia will face consequences for their actions, “Russia’s actions have already erased the possibility of advancing legislative efforts to promote U.S.-Russian partnership in the current Congress, including an agreement to allow for increased collaboration with Russia on nuclear energy production and the repeal of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which currently blocks the country’s integration into the World Trade Organization. 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 if it does not stand down its forces and live up to its commitments.”
I was not anticipating quite this strong of a statement from Biden tonight. I think that Congress will almost certainly approve the emergency aid for Georgia, and I think that Biden is on the right track by stressing that the consequences of Russia’s actions will come in the world community. As an aside, I think that Biden demonstrated the type of foreign policy gravitas needed in Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. I am really starting to hope that Obama has chosen Biden as his running mate.