Meet the Press   |  January 01, 1910

Clinton on resetting Russian relations

July 26: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discusses the long-term future of U.S.-Russian relations with NBC’s David Gregory on “Meet the Press.”

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

MR. GREGORY: Let me talk about another difficult area, and that's Russia , where there has been an attempt by the president to say, "We're going to reset this relationship." Vice President Biden , who was just traveling in the region, talked to the Wall Street Journal , and his comments raised some eyebrows. This is what he said:"The reality is the Russians are where they are. They have a shrinking population base, they have a withering economy, they have a banking sector and structure that is not likely to be able to withstand the next 15 years, they're in a situation where the world is changing before them and they're clinging to something in the past that is not sustainable." Is he speaking for the president, and is the message essentiality that the U.S. now has the upper hand when it's dealing with Russia ?

SEC'Y CLINTON: No, and I don't think that's at all what the vice president meant. I mean, remember, the vice president was the first person in the administration, in an important speech which he gave in Munich , Germany , shortly after President Obama 's inauguration, that we wanted to reset our relationship with Russia . And we know that that's not easily done. It takes time, it takes trust building. And we want what the president called for during his recent Moscow summit. We want a strong, peaceful and prosperous Russia .

Now, there is an enormous amount of work to be done between the United States and Russia . We're working on reducing our nuclear arsenal. We're going to work on reducing fissile material to make sure it doesn't fall into the wrong hands. We're working to combat the threat of violent extremism. Russia has been very helpful in our United Nations efforts vis-a-vis North Korea . The Russians joined the G-8 statement in Italy talking about the need for Iran to come to the table either in a multilateral forum like the P-5 Plus One that we're part of, or bilaterally with us. And so there is an enormous amount of hard work being done. And we view Russia as a great power. Now, every country faces challenges. You know, we have our challenges, Russia has their challenges. And there are certain issues that Russia has to deal with on its own. And we want to make clear that, as we reset our relationship, we are very clearly not saying that Russia can have a 21st century sphere of influence in Eastern Europe . That is, you know, an, an attitude and a policy we reject.

We also are making it very clear that any nation in Eastern Europe that used to be part of the Soviet Union has a right now, as a free, sovereign and independent nation, to choose whatever alliance they wish to join. So if Ukraine and Georgia someday are eligible for and desire to join NATO , that should be up to them.

So I, I think that, you know, what we're seeing here is the beginning of the resetting of that relationship, which I have been deeply involved in. I will be co-chairing a presidential commission along with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov . We'll be following up on what our two presidents said in Moscow . And the Russians know that, you know, we have continuing questions about some of their policies, and they have continuing questions about some of ours.