Meeting Russia head on
Following Russian Premier Vladimir Putin’s aggressive actions since taking office, European Commission President Romano Prodi has wasted no time in sending a signal to Moscow that the EU will draw the line to limit Russia’s westward imperialistic aims.
Putin has rushed to reassert Russian influence as a global power. He came to office on an aggressive war footing, advocating the crushing of the dissidents in Chechnya. He reversed Russia’s traditional “no first strike” stance on nuclear weapons. Further, he cemented ties with China and has since moved to reactivate some of Russia’s old Soviet-era relationships.
Put simply, Russia is telling the world that, while it may still suffer economic difficulty, it still has a nuclear arsenal big enough to deal a death blow to the U.S., and is intent on getting the world to sit up and take notice.
Putin’s recent demonstration of leadership at the summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States, cajoling the participating nations into cooperation with Russia, was taken seriously by the EU. They now know they are dealing with much stronger Russian leadership. Putin means business! Thus it was interesting to note Prodi’s response.
Conscious of the increasing reluctance of the U.S. to involve itself in European security, Prodi stepped out and declared, in a ringing warning to Russia on February 10 from the ex-Soviet state of Latvia, “Any attack or aggression against an EU member nation would be an attack or aggression against the whole EU. This is the highest guarantee.”
Stratfor Systems commented, “Prodi’s announcement intensified the ever-escalating race to establish a new frontier between Russia and the West” (Global Intelligence Update, Feb. 11). Russia now knows it is dealing with a Europe that is showing something that the increasingly isolationist U.S. greatly lacks—political will!