Monday, February 10
Old Europe v new US

Putin supports everyone, but for how long?
Yelena Suponina, Pyotr Rozvalin and Yuri Shpakov, The Guardian, February 11, 2003

Russia has a complex choice. The nebulous suggestion that Moscow will support the German-French plan, if it is approved by the security council, no longer holds good. The question of which draft will the security council vote for now depends primarily on the specific position opted for by Russia.

On one side are France and Germany with whose anti-war opinion Russia can more easily identify. On the other there is Britain and, most importantly, the US, the superpower with which the Kremlin would very much like to be on good terms.

The French considered the publication of a joint project with the Germans to be premature. The Elysee Palace wanted first to hammer out the details of old Europe's new initiative with Russia. And the visit of President Vladimir Putin, first to Berlin on Sunday and Paris on Monday, proved to be very timely. In an interview on French TV, Putin made a sharp, but simultaneously vague, statement supporting everyone at once.

"The United Nations charter has nothing that would allow the UN security council to take decisions on changing the political regime in this or that country, whether or not we like that regime," the president said. At the same time, "Russia shares the position of our American partners which is that we must do everything to ensure full Iraqi cooperation with UN inspectors. The difference of approach lies in this: we believe the problem can and must be solved by peaceful political and diplomatic means."

While the Americans are mocking "old Europe" (the implication being that it is decrepit), Paris and Berlin speak squeamishly about the concepts of a "new world" and "new Europe". The French automatically think of the Americans as the new rich, "the new Yankees" and they obviously see the newly minted eastern European allies as devious servants anxious for a handout. [...]
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