WARSAW: Despite deep differences between Europe and the United States over the Iraq war, missile defense and NATO's future, President Vladimir Putin of Russia failed in a harsh speech to widen the dispute with Washington, according to security analysts in Poland and elsewhere.
"The reason is that Putin's true colors were revealed," said Marek Ostrowski, a Polish foreign policy expert. "We Poles are used to Russia trying to split the European allies and the trans-Atlantic relationship. But this time around everyone could sense his arrogance — which is why he provoked little sympathy."
If anything, Putin's speech last weekend to the Munich Security Conference, in which he attacked the Bush administration's foreign policy and its unwillingness to treat Russia as an equal partner, hardened the resolve of the Czech government. It said it would press ahead with plans to base the radar component of a missile-defense system on its territory.
The irony is all of this (as is implied in the article) is the two nations that are most critical of Vladimir Putin's harsh tone are two former Warsaw Pact countries that Putin still feels the need to bully around, as if the Pact is still in effect. The article goes on to point out that much of Europe's leaders that have embraced Putin in some measure or degree have left office, or are about to leave in the near future:
....the European leaders who were closest to Putin have left or are about to leave the political stage.
The conservative chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, in power since late 2005, has no qualms in criticizing Putin's human rights record — unlike her Social Democratic predecessor, Gerhard Schröder. Last month, Merkel publicly reprimanded Putin for failing to notify Germany that he was cutting off energy supplies to Belarus, which in turn prevented supplies reaching Germany.
Jacques Chirac, the French president, who personally oversaw his country's Russian policy, is not expected to seek re-election this spring. Prime Minister Romano Prodi of Italy is less tolerant of Putin than his predecessor, Silvio Berlusconi.
In the past, this would look to be the light at the end of the tunnel. The leaders of these states and others are not happy with the way Putin wants to do business and have said so, in so many words. But in this, the day and age (of the EU trying to assert it's influence over the unwilling), we can see that this is not necessarily the case:
Several new EU members, particularly Poland and the Baltic states, are questioning what some have seen as a cozy relationship between the EU and Moscow.
"If you look at who is in power at the moment in Europe, a kind of middle ground with respect to Russia is emerging," said Charles Grant, director of the Center for European Reform in London. That new middle ground will be tested in the coming months when the EU starts negotiating a new trade, economic and political agreement with Russia.
"The member states have now heard Putin explain the new Russia," Bailes said. "The ball is in Brussels's court."
I do not recommend anyone holding their breath on this one. The EU has already shown its colors in other attempts to undermine the sovereignty of its members. Rather that work for the European nations that it represents, it clearly demonstrates time after time that it's only interest is, justifying its own existence.
But, be that as it may, this flap generated by putting defense shield missiles in the Czech Republic and Poland is proving to be the catalyst in a new era of "Cold War" relations between the west and Russia. Russia is not content to allow a purely defensive system to be installed near its borders, without a barrage of threats by Russian military officials.
(MOSCOW) — Poland and the Czech Republic risk being targeted by Russian missiles if they agree to host a proposed U.S. missile defense system, a top Russian general warned Monday. Russia has been increasingly bellicose in its response to the U.S. proposal to build the missile defense system in Eastern Europe. President Vladimir Putin has said he does not trust U.S. claims that the system would be to guard the American East Coast and Europe from missiles launched from "rogue nations" in the Middle East.
Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov, head of Russia's missile forces, said the system would upset strategic stability. It would be the first such site in Europe.
"If the governments of Poland and the Czech Republic take such a step ... the Strategic Missile Forces will be capable of targeting these facilities if a relevant decision is made," he said.
This begs some new questions. What are the real objectives of the Russian government? Are they planning on a new empire or are they truly scared that their threats and overall bellicosity will not be heeded in future endeavors?
And what do the Czechs say about the Russian attempts to intimidate them?
WARSAW (Reuters) - The Czech Republic said on Tuesday it would not be intimidated by Russia over plans to site parts of a U.S. missile defense system on its territory and said attempts at "blackmail" by Moscow would backfire.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said threats by Russian officials over the plans, which would involve placing a radar system on Czech land and a missile battery in Poland, would only make Czechs more determined to defend themselves.
Sounds like someone is not afraid of the big bad wolf.