January 10, 2022 10:10 am
In 1989, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a spokesman for the Soviet Union composed a rhyme speaking of the summit between George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev that would take place in Malta to bury the cold war: “From Yalta to Malta”. Yalta was the site of the summit between Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill in February 1945, when according to common opinion the map of postwar Europe was redrawn. The story is more complicated, but the legend dies hard.
Perhaps we need to take up that formula about the meeting between Russians and Americans held on January 10 in Geneva. The verse becomes “From Yalta to Malta and Geneva”. But the fear is that of a return to the starting square where the fate of Europe is decided without the Europeans.
The shadow of Yalta and its mythology hovers over the meeting of 10 January, which comes in one of the most tense moments of the last thirty years on European territory. In the background are the 100,000 Russian soldiers threatening Ukraine from three sides and Putin’s claim to receive “security guarantees”.
Why are Europeans absent? Vladimir Putin is betting everything on the balance of power, and by amassing soldiers as if preparing to invade Ukraine has attracted Washington’s attention. His goal is clearly to rejoin the superpower club and negotiate as an equal.
From this point of life Putin got what he wanted, because the United States accepted the bilateral meeting leaving the Europeans on the sidelines. The 27 are frustrated and worried, but it must nevertheless be remembered that when France and Germany, during a European summit last June, proposed a meeting with Putin to discuss current problems, they ran into a rejection by the majority of the others. EU countries. Difficult to stay in the game when you refuse to play it.
The Europeans evidently no longer have a bearing on the balance of power that Putin would like to establish
The Europeans have multiplied their talks – among themselves, with Ukraine and with US diplomacy – to avoid finding themselves in a situation in which the United States can make concessions on their skin.
Is there really this risk? I am not convinced, because the United States has no interest in giving in to Putin’s pressure. The two draft treaties presented by the Russian president, which would sanction the recognition of a Russian “zone of influence” over neighboring countries (including Ukraine), are unacceptable for Washington.
The Europeans, in any case, will immediately get involved again, because the Russian-American summit will be followed by a meeting between Russia and NATO and another between Russia and the OSCE, the Organization for security and cooperation in Europe. In both cases, the Europeans will be present by right.
However, the symbolism of the Geneva meeting is alarming for Europeans, who evidently no longer have a bearing on the balance of power that Putin would like to establish. Europe has no choice but to lean on the current US administration, regardless of its weaknesses.
This will be the central theme under discussion mid-week in Brest, western France, where the French presidency of the Council of the European Union will bring together the foreign and defense ministers of the 27. Brest certainly does not rhyme with Yalta .
(Translation by Andrea Sparacino)