WASHINGTON (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday the United States rejects any desire by Russia to exert its influence over Eastern Europe similarly to the Soviet Union of the past.
Responding to reported comments by Vice President Joe Biden that Russia was "clinging to something in the past that is not sustainable," Clinton told the NBC program "Meet the Press" that the United States wants Russia to play a positive role in international relations.
"We view Russia as a great power," Clinton said. "Every country faces challenges. We have challenges, Russia has challenges."
However, she said, the old ways are over.
"We are very clearly not saying that Russia can have a 21st century sphere of influence in Eastern Europe," Clinton said, calling that a "policy we reject."
Every Eastern European country has the right to join any alliance it wants, she said, referring to Russia's objections to former satellites such as Georgia trying to join NATO.
The Wall Street Journal quoted Biden on Saturday as saying Russia has problems that prevent if from exerting the influence it seeks.
"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, according to the report.