How Biden’s 2009 speech on NATO solidarity foreshadowed the Ukraine-Russia crisis

Biden addressed critics who thought the U.S. was no longer focused on central and Eastern Europe. But he didn’t exactly deny the criticism

By Mark Hannah, Senior Fellow

This article appeared in NBC THINK on March 22, 2022.

In 2009, about a year into his vice presidency, Joe Biden was in Romania, giving a speech about the importance of NATO solidarity. I was there with him, as a young advance guy paying more attention to Biden’s punctuality and the order of European flags on the stage than to the speech’s strange geopolitical moment.

At the time, hardly anyone was preoccupied with the possibility of Russia’s invading a European country. In the decades after the Cold War, much of central and Eastern Europe was growing more prosperous and democratic. So as Biden spoke — and as his speech was simultaneously translated into 15 languages from across the region, including Ukrainian — his primary preoccupation was to rally his audience to America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Read more of Mark’s article in NBC THINK.

Written by Mark Hannah

Mark is a senior fellow at the Eurasia Group Foundation’s Independent America project and host of the podcast, None Of The Above.

Read more from Mark

This post is part of Independent America, a research project led out by EGF senior fellow Mark Hannah, which seeks to explore how U.S. foreign policy could better be tailored to new global realities and to the preferences of American voters.