Vice President Biden flew to Germany yesterday as the U.S. representative at the annual Munich Security Conference. He gave a speech there early this morning (U.S. time). Thus far, I have been unable to find an official transcript of his remarks on the White House's site.
This is something of a problem, given that, depending on which media outlet you read, Biden either ratcheted up the pressure on Moscow by insisting that the United States will continue working on the controversial missile shield in eastern Europe that has the Kremlin seeing red, or else he backed down from that position and offered an olive branch. I should think that, while the details of the coverage might vary slightly, all media outlets actually present for the speech would be able to agree upon whether the vice president argued for a continuation of the previous administration's policies (which seems prima facie unlikely) or offered to make a change in some new direction.
You would be wrong in thinking that, however. According to The Guardian, Biden offered an "olive branch to Russia" and will put its European missile-shield plans on hold. The New York Times begs to differ, saying that Biden said the U.S. "will pursue missile plan Russia opposes." The Beeb temporizes, saying in its lede that Biden called for striking a new tone in U.S. foreign relations and noting that he called for "press[ing] the 'reset button' in ties with Russia," but also asserting, further down in the article, that the U.S. "would continue with its plans for a missile defence shield in Central Europe." Le Monde was vague, perhaps deliberately, noting that Biden said the U.S. was determined to set a new tone in its foreign relations, also citing the "reset button" remark, and then adding, with regard to the missile shield, that Biden "restated the prudent position adopted by Barack Obama" and quoting him as saying that "We will continue to develop our anti-missile defenses to counter the growing capabilities of Iran, as long as the technology works and the benefits outweigh the costs. We will do this in consultation with you, our NATO allies, and with Russia." Agence France Presse quoted that last sentence, but said nothing about whether or not Biden called for a continuation of the work on the missile shield or offered to stop it altogether. The WaPo claims that Biden said the technology would go forward only if the administration is confident that it will work, and "only in consultation with Europe and Russia."
So there you have it. Our vice president either did, or did not, offer to back away from a bone of contention with Russia, and either did, or did not, offer to work more closely with them on a serious sticking point.
Is it any wonder that fewer and fewer people are paying attention to the news?
Update: The New York Times has now changed its headline on the linked story. It now reads "Biden Signals U.S. is Open to Deal with Russia on Missiles."