Crimean Communists held an anti-NATO rally today in Simferopol. First, the public was regaled by young artists, who played President, Prime Minister and Speaker. Having talked over the issue of Ukraine’s accession to NATO, the amateur actors signed the widely-publicized Letter of the Three, after which they were run out of the square in shame. Activists from the Communist Crimean movement swiftly and publicly burned the signed sheet. Tossed into the flames was a coffin with a NATO caption, evidently symbolizing the demise of the North Atlantic Alliance.
Serhiy Nikulin, Chairman of the Union of Soviet Officers of Crimea: Ukraine will never be in NATO. Now, Pan President — or what should we call you or refer to you — this is what we want to say: It will never happen — no matter what you sign and no matter what writings you sling to Brussels. Because we won’t let it happen. There’s only one reason: The Slavic world is united. Nobody has ever succeeded in splitting it, and we won’t let it happen, ever.
Hey, what about Poland and the Czech Republic? Aren’t they Slav countries?
Local NATO naysayers are having a field day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a statement discarding Ukraine as a candidate for NATO membership. Her statement echoes that of outgoing Russian President Putin, with whom she had met on March 8. Both share a past of living and working in the GDR. (Putin has reportedly offered to contribute Russian troops to NATO operations in Afghanistan in exchange for NATO’s rejection of Ukraine and Georgia.)
With 53 percent of Ukrainians opposed to NATO membership, Merkel chose to entrench herself in the Old Europe v New Europe chasm. She went out of her way to make Ukraine’s membership prospects appear even more remote.
In what closely resembles Schröder's policy of GasPutin-pleasing, she obviously targeted the agenda at the Bucharest Summit, slated for April 2-4. Her message: The Orange Coalitions’s MAP application letter will get a strong kaput from Germany. (Well, perhaps nyet would be more geopolitically correct.)
This message effectively puts to rest hope of a more Ukraine-friendly/less Kremlin-oriented Ostpolitik.
Even Washington, Ukraine’s most influential friend, will hardly compensate for lack of ground support in the Old European theater.
President Bush is expected to pay a cheerleading visit to Kyiv on March 31-April 1, on the eve of the Bucharest Summit. Still, in his capacity as a lame duck of deplorable global credentials, Bush stands little chance of helping Ukraine get her foot in the NATO door.
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