Biden warns against Russia threat to liberal order

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Russia is the main threat to the Western-led world order, US Vice President Joe Biden told Davos elites on Wednesday, in his final speech before leaving office.

“The greatest threat … springs from the external actors who equate their success on fracturing the liberal international order,” Biden said two days before he makes way for Donald Trump’s administration in Washington.

“I’m not going to mince words, this movement is principally led by Russia,” he said, though he also mentioned China and actors in the Middle East.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is “working with every tool available to them to whittle away at the edges of the European project,” Biden told the audience of executives and opinion-makers at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos.

Putin is “testing the faultlines among Western nations” and working to return the world to a system “defined by spheres of influence”.

“We even saw it in the cyber intrusions against political parties and individuals in the United States,” he said, in a direct reference to a US intelligence report that Russia worked to tip the US election to Donald Trump.

Biden’s words were also a direct warning to Trump, who has made mending ties with Russia a priority.

“Again, their purpose is clear, to collapse the liberal international order,” Biden said.

The vice president gave his vigorous defence of the liberal order a day after China’s President Xi Jinping gave the keynote speech at Davos that stressed his commitment to globalisation, also in contradiction to expected Trump policies.

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