Ukraine and Georgia’s bid to join Nato, and the anti-missile shield, which the Czech side have now signed up to and the Polish side appears close, are bringing out the beast in Vladimir Putin, as his days as president near an end.
According to the Russian daily Kommiersant, last Friday in Bucharest, President Putin said that if Ukraine and Georgia ever do become full Nato members then Russia would have every right to take back part of Ukraine, the Crimea and the Georgian breakaway states of Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia!
If the German and French side were having doubts about accepting Ukraine and Georgia into the first stage of Nato membership, the Membership Action Plan - and Paris and Berlin were - then that must have settled it. Both the ex-Soviet countries were told by Nato leaders that yes, they would be asked to join the North Atlantic alliance, but not now. Not yet.
Game and set to Putin.
Unfortunately, Nato also endorsed the US plan for an anti-missile system in Central Europe.
Game and second set to George W. Bush.
Today, in a meeting between deputy foreign minsters of Poland and Russia, Moscow demanded that if Poland should host their portion of the anti-missile system then Russia must have full access to the facility.
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, confirmed this demand.
‘Our constant presence at those sites is of key importance to us, so that we know at every second that the radar is not penetrating our territory and interception rockets do not pose a threat to us. Lavrov was quoted as saying in the Kremlin’s Komsomolskaya Pravda’ newspaper.
Not surprisingly, the Polish side said ‘No’.
‘Certainly, there is no way that Russians should be granted the right to be stationed in Poland. That belongs in the past and will never come back,’ said Polish deputy foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski.
It’s hard to know how much of this is hard-ball bluff and how much of it Russia expects to be taken seriously. Demanding constant access to a facility in Poland surly must come under the slightly daft bluff. But what about Moscow’s threat to break up Ukraine ?
That one is a little more complicated as a majority of Ukrainians don’t want to be in Nato. Around half of Ukrainians don’t speak Ukrainian as a first language, but Russian. How unified a nation is Ukraine in the first place?
Whatever - if Moscow thinks that these kind of antics, in the fag end of Putin’s presidency, and on the cusp of his new job as prime minister, will make the anti-missile shield less popular in Poland then…well, they are wrong. They are actually helping Warsaw get more dollars out of Washington to beef up its armed forces in return for babysitting Bush’s anti-missile shield.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Posted by beatroot at 4/08/2008