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    DIPLOMACY

    Biden's Blistering Russia Critique

    Vice President Joe Biden, never one to mince words, capped off his four-day tour to Ukraine and Georgia with a blunt assessment of Russia's current state of affairs that has angered the Kremlin. Arguing that the U.S. had more leverage over Russia than it appeared, Biden told The Wall Street Journal that domestic conditions there would require their leaders to reach out to the West. "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," Biden said. The Kremlin is demanding a clarification, calling Biden's comments "perplexing" so soon after Obama's conciliatory visit last month. Biden said in the interview the U.S. should not push Russia too hard too soon. "It is never smart to embarrass an individual or a country when they're dealing with significant loss of face," Biden said. "My dad used to put it another way: Never put another man in a corner where the only way out is over you."