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Europe

Press Review: Divide and Conquer

European editorials on Friday looked at the limited options for Europe and Washington to exert influence over Ukraine.

Under the title, "The Dangers of Dealing with the Russian Mephistopheles," Britain’s Financial Times newspaper commented on Friday on tensions between the European Union and Russia over the disputed presidential election in Ukraine. The paper criticized the fact that despite all the public hand-wringing about the stifling of Ukrainian democracy, we have seen few signs yet that Washington, Rome, Berlin or Paris are ready to renege on their dark bargain with Moscow. That dark bargain is spelt out, because Russia knows that its borders touch the vital strategic interests of the US and Europe. Russian President Vladimir Putin, it stated, has become a master at divide and conquer and he has weakened Europe’s hand.

Austria’s Der Standard, for example, saw the EU as being confronted with the biggest geopolitical test it has ever faced. The paper said Europe must avoid any hint of Cold War rhetoric, whilst making it clear that its value system is non-negotiable and is the basis for any lasting peace in Europe.

Germany's Stuttgarter Zeitung also picked up on the important point that not only is Ukraine dependent on the delivery of Russian energy supplies, but so is Central Europe. Germany, in particular, imports considerable amounts of Russian natural gas. This, the paper said, is not going to enhance Western criticism of the Kremlin. It goes to show how dangerous such dependencies are for Europe’s political autonomy.

Italy’s La Repubblica opined that the only leverage the Ukrainian voters have is in public protest. It even asked: Could Europe have another "velvet revolution" like that which brought down the Iron Curtain? In the paper’s view, the noble message being sent by Ukraine protesters is that they want to become a part of Europe and they want to do it a peaceful, European, way.

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