U.S. Vice President Joe Biden warned European nations Wednesday to be ready for Russia to try to influence their elections in the same way that U.S. intelligence agencies say they are certain Russia did in the November vote that is bringing Donald Trump to office this week.
"With many countries in Europe slated to hold elections this year, we should expect further attempts by Russia to meddle in the democratic process. It will occur again, I promise you," Biden said in his final address in Davos, Switzerland.
He further accused Russia of working to unravel what he called the "liberal international order" and return to a world in which super powers exerted control over nations in their sphere of influence. In addition to targeting democratic systems, Biden cited Russian "aggression against their neighbors," including actions in Ukraine, and using control of energy supplies as a weapon against other countries.
Russia has rejected the U.S. intelligence conclusion that it interfered in the election with the goal of helping Trump.
Biden also sought to reassure NATO countries that the U.S. remains committed to the alliance. Trump during his campaign called NATO "obsolete" and suggested the U.S. would not automatically defend a member who had not paid its full share.
"The single greatest bulwark for our transatlantic partnership is the unshakeable commitment of the United States to all of our NATO allies," Biden said. "It is a sacred obligation that we have embraced, that an attack on one is an attack on all. That can never be placed in question.”
The vice president said going forward there need to be efforts to make Europe more energy independent, for nations to improve their cyber security and to combat misinformation.
Biden said the world is probably safer than it has ever been, but that with modern technology and the ease of sharing images it can feel like there is "perpetual chaos." He said in facing current fears there is a danger of reverting to what he called the "political small-mindedness" and nationalist policies that led to world wars last century.
He advocated responding by tapping into the "big heartedness" that brought the plan to rebuild Europe after World War II and the "audacity that proposed the United Nations."
"We can't rout fear with retrenchment," Biden said.
An uncertain world
He cited a "palpable uncertainty about the state of the world," but said that while the United States plays an important role, the world's challenges do not hinge solely on leadership from Washington.
"Whether we reinforce the ties that bind us or whether we unravel under the current pressures, these choices have to be made by every single nation," Biden said. "And they will determine what kind of nation and what kind of nations and what kind of world we're going to leave for our children."