Sunday, February 10, 2008

Polish-Russian meeting

The Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk went to Moscow on Friday. He said he was deeply impressed during his visit to Moscow: "All difficult Polish-Russian relations stood in front of my eyes by the Kremlin gates."

It seems that these special doormen were not the beginning of a “shock and awe”-meeting with Vladimir Putin during which he reprimanded Poland for daring to accept the U.S. offer to host a base for the missile shield. In his comments after the meeting the Polish president said that Russia - albeit without enthusiasm - had accepted Poland's right to host a U.S. missile shield. Honestly, no one expected Putin to react enthusiastically (you might scroll to the end to see what it takes to achieve this aim).

Tusk told Polish media that the Russian president has “obviously accepted Poland's right to decide about what and whose installations we will host on our soil”. If you expected that there has to be a ‘but’, you were absolutely right: "[Putin] expressed expectations to monitor to what extent the shield installations are turned against Russia." Here comes another ‘but’: But this is something Poland is not willed to accept. The Polish Prime Minister elaborated that “the U.S. and the Czech Republic do not exclude some kind of Russian presence. There is a feel of negotiations on this. However, the Polish government will not agree to a permanent presence of third-country military.”

Surprisingly, Putin refrained from using the Cold War rhetoric and sounded even conciliatory: "I would not over-dramatize problems in our relations […] By restoring cooperation and dialogue, we will be able to find a way out of any problem."

It will be interesting to see, what kind of solution Putin has in mind and in how far his successor will be able to hammer it out. This solution will be heavily influenced by the fact that NATO is preparing its first significant decision on missile defense for the alliance's next summit in Bucharest, Romania, in early April. The Bucharest decision is expected to give the alliance a general direction on this issue, but will not be the final as "many things would have to be worked out," NATO Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer said. No formal decision on missile defense is expected until a NATO summit in 2009. Some sources report that there is a sense among NATO defense ministers that the bolt-on idea would work.

And now, as promised, some insight what excites Putin: Putin Kampfschlumpf / Putin Battle-smurf. Any resemblance to Pippi Longstocking is purely coincidental.

Picture: © English Russia

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