President Putin was the first winner from the Nato summit in Bucharest, and he wasn't even there. The Nato-Russia Council begins only today, but Putin, who has played the Western alliance with obsessive skill in his last months as President, ensured that relations with Russia dominated the earlier gathering.
For him and George W. Bush, Bucharest was a battle of the legacies, and on points Putin won. The summit failed to give a date for Ukraine and Georgia to join, which Bush had forthrightly declared it should, but which Germany and France blocked, partly to avoid antagonising Russia. Gordon Brown yesterday said that “no one outside a Nato meeting could influence it”, but Russia's threats and courtship seem to have done just that.
The summit did make an unequivocal declaration that “these countries will become members of Nato”, which is powerful rhetoric, but remains vulnerable to members' doubts, whether or not because of Russian pressure behind the scenes. Putin did lose one important point, however: Nato committed itself to hosting the US missile defence bases in the Czech Republic and Poland... Bronwen Maddox. The Times - online