Richard North, 07/12/2004  

The cold war is with us again. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has just had a two-day conference in Sofia, which ended with no joint declaration. Along the lines there was a serious falling out between Russia and the United States, with the latter dismissing accusations of trying to extend its influence into Ukraine and Russia snarling when accused, in turn, of backtracking on undertakings to pull troops out of Moldova and Georgia.

It is a little rich for President Putin, who went to Ukraine twice during the election campaign, summoned President Kuchma once before the campaign and again a few days ago, as well as made angry statements about decisions by the Ukrainian parliament (Rada) and Supreme Court, to accuse other people of trying to extend their influence. But then, President Putin and the siloviki around him do not view Ukraine as an independent country. In fact, the concept of an independent country is alien to these people, as it was alien to the Soviet Union. If it is our “near abroad” (nasha zagranitsa) it is ours to play around with. Any other opinion is unwarranted interference. Democracy? Fair elections? What’s that?

Unfortunately for us, Javier Solana, the chief panjandrum of the EU's supposedly common foreign and security policy, seems to go along with this notion. He has spent his time rushing around, negotiating for a compromise. A compromise between whom? Well, the people who grossly mishandled the Ukrainian election and those who would like to see the system reformed, made free and fair; a compromise between an ever more autocratic Russian government who is openly trying to suborn its neighbour and the people of the neighbouring country, who want to be independent and move away from autocracy and corruption. Some compromise, some foreign policy.

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