Russia viewed the decision by the Obama White House to scrap the Bush plan as a victory, with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev applauding the move as show of cooperation, but the White House insisted that Russia's position did not play a role in its decision.
"This is not about Russia," Gibbs said on Sept. 17. "This is about protecting our homeland. It's about protecting the troops that we have deployed overseas that protect our freedom. And it was about ensuring the defense of our allies, our European and NATO allies. That's why this decision was made."
"Those who say we are scrapping missile defense in Europe are either misinformed or misrepresenting the reality of what we are doing," Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said.
Blinken said it was clear "from day one" that the Obama administration would seek to improve relations with Russia "but not at the expense of our partners."
"The view we have is that any improvement in U.S.-Russian relations can only improve security in Europe and will redound to the benefit of all our allies," he said.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just returned from Russia, where she reiterated the administration position that Russia and the United States do not pose a threat to one another but that they must work together to counter the legitimate threats from nations like Iran.
"Missile defense is an effort to protect people from the real threats that exist in the world. We do not see a threat between the United States and Russia," Clinton said at Moscow State University on Oct. 14. "There are disagreements from time to time, but we do not see a threat."
The trip comes just weeks before the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the symbolic ending of the Cold War.
Blinken said that while Biden will mark that historic anniversary, his focus will be more on the future than the past.
"In [Biden's] view, the real validation of 1989 is less in what we took down and more in what we built and continue to build together: strong democracies, strong partnerships that deliver for people in all of our countries and beyond," he said.
"The countries are no longer 'post-communist,' quote, unquote, or 'in transition,' quote, unquote; they are full- fledged members of the NATO alliance and the European Union, with serious and substantial responsibilities," he said.
Biden is also expected to address energy security, climate change and Afghanistan. He will meet with key leadership in all three nations as well as opposition leaders in Romania and the Czech Republic.
The vice president will deliver a speech at Central University in Bucharest where he will focus on U.S. relations with central European nations.
Biden returns to Washington on Friday evening. This is his eighth overseas trip since taking office in January.