Ukraine wants the Russian naval base on its territory removed, saying that "The location of a large foreign military base in Ukraine is a problem for the country's national security."
I've discussed earlier how Putin's policy of intimidation against Russia's neighbors has already backfired very badly with Estonia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Georgia. Russia's next Presidential election is on 9 March 2008, just seven months from now. If the Russian people have come to see by then that Putinism is not only isolating Russia but also weakening rather than enhancing its influence, there is still a chance of reversing the disastrous turn Russia has taken over the last few years. No doubt the election will be rigged, but what Ukrainians could do in 2004, Russians can do in 2008 -- if they understand the stakes.
If the Russians embrace democracy and openness (as most other eastern European nations have already done), I think they will be stunned at how eager the West is to respond. After all, the West would much rather have Russia as an ally than as an adversary.
Labels: Eastern Europe