WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday President Barack Obama “stated the obvious” when he assured Russia’s president he would have more flexibility to deal with missile defense after US elections.
In an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation, Biden dismissed Republican criticism of Obama’s remarks to President Dmitry Medvedev in Seoul on Monday, which were caught on an open microphone.
“Look… the president just stated the obvious,” Biden said.
“The idea that in this election year we’re going to be able to deal with an agreement with the Russians on further reducing our nuclear arsenals in the environment that we have in the … Congress right now is difficult,” he said.
In their last meeting before Vladimir Putin is inaugurated president in May, Obama told Medvedev that it was important for Russia to give him “space” on all issues, but particularly missile defense.
“This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility,” Obama said. In return Medvedev promised to “transmit this information to Vladimir.”
Biden dismissed criticism of the remarks by Mitt Romney, the frontrunner to be the Republican nominee to run against Obama in November, saying it showed how little the former Massachusetts governor knew about foreign policy.
“He acts like he thinks the Cold War’s still on,” Biden said.
The vice president then went on say that Russia was working closely with the United States on a number of issues.
“I mean we have disagreements with Russia but they’re united with us on Iran. The only way we’re getting, one of only two ways we’re getting material into Afghanistan to our troops is through Russia,” he said.
“They’ve just said to Europe if there is an oil shutdown in any way in the Gulf they’ll consider increasing oil supplies to Europe. This is not 1956,” Biden added.