The New Cold war looks like this. Bit of a laugh, innit? (photo)
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov was in town today. The meeting with Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski was keenly anticipated by the media commentariat. Would Sergei the Russian Bear be taken to task by Rad the Eagle? Or was Lavrov going to roast the eagle on a spit? After all, it’s Sikorski’s signature on the anti-missile shield agreement.
Would their high-octane meeting do what that particle physics experiment could not? Create a black hole with an energy force field so strong that the Foreign Ministry building on Szucha Avenue collapses in on itself, disappearing into thin air, and taking all of Poland and Russia’s diplomats with it?
There was a time when everyone thought - because Dziennik said so - that Lavrov had cancelled his trip to Warsaw after Poland’s support for Tbilisi during the South Ossetian war.
And then it was - if he does come, should he meet President Lech ‘Caucasus Rambo’ Kaczynski as well?
In the event, Kaczynski was out of the country today, busy with urgent meetings of the Visegrad group - and you can be forgiven for never hearing of it before. The G8, it is not.
So tension was high in Warsaw’s Foreign Ministry this morning.
And then…nothing really happened.
After the two emerged from their meeting it was all rather jolly and polite. If I was on the verge of a New Cold War I wouldn’t be smiling like that. But the thing is, we are not in a New Cold War - unless we want to talk our way into one, that is.
Lavrov did complain about the anti-missile system - but he was blaming the US, for trying to build a Nato ring around Russia. He said Poland was no threat to Moscow.
Sikorski said that he “understood Russia” better now. Which is good. I hope he shares his insights with us, and often.
And they both talked about the relations that are still going on between the two countries, in terms of trade, cultural ties, and so on.
So far, so predictable, so diplomatic. It was a par for the course foreign ministry meeting.
All the time the elephant in the room - Georgia - remained virtually untouched.
The only tricky bit came when Sikorski brought up the embarrassing antics of some of Russia’s generals. They love to get in the newspapers threatening to nuke Poland from the face of the universe. Which is quite rude, isn’t it?
But all in all, this was not the hyper aggressive Russia we have seen, on occasion, recently.
The historic fear of Russia in Poland is entirely understandable. But having an ahistorical fear of them is not. Russia is in a very new place right now. It has economic power, not military. It will try to hang on to as much territory as it can. It does so because it feels threatened. It’s from weakness not strength that Moscow is authoritarian and can bully.
And we should always ask ourselves: can the US, UK etc really accuse Moscow of being the bullyboy when they have taken it upon themselves to act like the world’s policeman/humanitarian social worker - whether the ‘client’ wants it or not - since the end of the Real Cold War.?
Beware the bear with a thorn in its foot. But in the end Russia needs the West as much as the West needs Russia. All talks and disputes should take that as their starting point.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Posted by beatroot at 9/11/2008