Video of Joe Biden Warning of Russian Hostility if NATO Expands Resurfaces

A video of Joe Biden speaking about the dangers of NATO expanding in 1997 has resurfaced and gone viral on social media.

In the video, Joe Biden warns that the Baltic states, namely Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, joining NATO could result in hostility from Russia. He did insist that he did not mean military retaliation, however.

The clip has so far amassed over 1.8 million views since it was posted on Twitter on Monday.

The clip was from a speech Joe Biden made at the Atlantic Council of the U.S. on June 18, 1997.

"I think the one place where the greatest consternation would be caused in the short-term for admission [to NATO], having nothing to do with the merit and preparedness of the country to come in, would be to admit Baltic states now in terms of NATO-Russian, US-Russian relations," Biden said in his speech.

"If there was ever anything that was going to tip the balance, were it to be tipped, in terms of a vigorous and hostile reaction in Russia, I don't mean military, it would be that."

Biden went on to admit that he was an optimist and said he believed the issue would be resolved eventually.

Despite the warning of an ill reaction from Russia, he claimed that he was optimistic that Russia would eventually see the expansion of NATO was actually also in their interest, regarding security.

"I once was told to be in this business you must be an optimist, some would suggest it is too optimistic a view," Biden continued.

"I believe with time, time meaning in the next several years, we will solve this.

"[We will solve this] to the degree in which Russia becomes comfortable with and it has demonstrated that the enlargement of NATO is ultimately in its interest in expanding stability.

He closed his speech by predicting when the Baltic states could become a part of NATO.

"It is my expectation as well as my hope that in the near term, meaning by the end of this century or shortly thereafter, the [Baltic states] will be admitted to NATO," Biden continued.

"This is if they still are seeking admission to NATO, I expect they will be." The full speech can be viewed here.

Biden's prediction eventually came true as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania all joined NATO in 2004.

Ahead of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin repeatedly warned about NATO expansion.

While the conflict between the two nations continues, on Monday Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Moscow was prepared to stop their military action if their demands are met.

"We really are finishing the demilitarization of Ukraine," Peskov told Reuters.

"We will finish it. But the main thing is that Ukraine ceases its military action. They should stop their military action and then no one will shoot.

"We have also spoken about how they should recognize that Crimea is Russian territory and that they need to recognize that Donetsk and Luhansk are independent states. That's it. It will stop in a moment."

He also said Kyiv had to give guarantees that it would not join NATO.

These terms have been rejected by Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky and insisted Russia's demands amounted to an ultimatum.

Follow our live blog for updates on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Joe Biden
Joe Biden walking through the subway that services Capitol Hill in 1998. A poignant video of Biden in 1997 has resurfaced and shows him warning of Russian hostility if NATO expands, while also playing down the military consequences of such a move. Karin Cooper/Getty images

Editor's Picks

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts