Biden predicts Russian cooperation

WASHINGTON: Russia's economy is withering and Moscow will be forced to make compromises with the West on a range of issues, US Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview.

Biden told The Wall Street Journal these included national security issues, including loosening Moscow's grip on former Soviet republics and shrinking its vast nuclear arsenal.

"All of sudden, did they have an epiphany and say: 'Hey man, we don't want to threaten our neighbors?' No," Biden said. "They can't sustain it."

Biden said he believed Russia's economic problems were part of a series of developments that have contributed to a significant rethinking by Moscow, the paper reported.

The geographical proximity of the emerging nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea is also likely to make Russia more cooperative with the United States in blocking their growth, said Biden, who recently visited Russia.

"I can see Putin sitting in Moscow saying, 'Jesus Christ, Iran gets the nuclear weapon, who goes first?' Moscow, not Washington," the vice president is quoted as saying about Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

But Biden said domestic troubles were the most important factor driving Russia's new global outlook, according to The Journal.

"I think we vastly underestimate the hand that we hold," he said.