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Berlin Hails Ukrainian Decision; Russia Slams West

DW staff (jam)December 4, 2004

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer hailed the decision by Ukraine's Supreme Court to order a re-run of the disputed election run-off. But Russia's Vladimir Putin strongly criticized western European and US policies.

Fischer, left, and Putin don't see eye to eye on UkraineImage: AP

Fischer in an interview with German public radio described the court's ruling on Friday as a "wise decision" that would allow the crisis that broke out following the November 21 polls to be settled "on a democratic basis."

A solution was "within reach," he added, also welcoming the fact that Russia had abided by the landmark legal ruling.

Fischer also denied that the political upheaval in Ukraine could damage relations between the European Union and Russia.

Russia, which endorsed the election's official winner Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych despite allegations of fraud, has slammed the EU for encouraging efforts by the Western-leaning opposition to seek a re-run of the vote.

Russia's State Duma on Friday adopted a scathing resolution condemning the EU, the European Parliament and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe for their support of opposition demands.

"The European Union did not intervene in the electoral battle," Fischer insisted in the interview. "There is nothing to contradict our good neighbourly and strategic relations."

"The Cold War is over," he added.

Maybe not entirely…

But in rhetoric reminiscent of the decades-long East-West conflict, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a blistering attack on the United States, accusing it of running a "dictatorship" over global affairs and able only to worsen humanity's problems.

Indien-Reise Wladimir Putin mit Indiens Premierminister Manmohan Singh
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, talks to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during their joint press conference in New Delhi Friday, Dec. 3, 2004. His visit began with some pointed criticism of the United States.Image: AP

On Friday night in a speech delivered in New Delhi, where he is on a state visit, Putin warned against attempts to rebuild the modern system of international relations along the lines of a uni-polar world.

Rising single power dominance would also increase the "global threats of international terrorism, organized crime and drug trafficking," the Russian leader said.

"Only a balanced democratic system of international law," could help ease those problems, he said.

Although he did not cite the United States by name, the target of his critique was certain.

"Even when dictatorship is beautifully gift-wrapped in pseudo-democratic phraseology it has never been capable of resolving such systemic problems. On the contrary, it can only make them worse," Putin said.

He also accused the West of practising double standards on terrorism and questioned whether fair elections could be held in Iraq as violence persisted.

Cold War memories

The Cold War oratory has been amplified since the opposition movement in Ukraine picked up momentum. Putin had strongly supported pro-government candidate Viktor Yanukovych during the campaign, even making appearances on Ukrainian television.

Analysts say the language that has been coming out of the Kremlin over the past weeks is due to Russia's lost imperial ambitions and fear of Western meddling in a region it considers under its own sphere of influence.