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Putin’s Last Stand

WASHINGTON – On April 2-4, NATO will hold its biggest summit ever in Bucharest, the capital of its new member, Romania. Incredibly, NATO has invited its fiercest critic, Russian President Vladimir Putin, to attend. For the first time since 2002, he will. His presence is an embarrassment to NATO, but an even greater disgrace for Russia.

The two biggest issues in Bucharest will be whether to invite Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia to join NATO, and whether to offer applications to Ukraine and Georgia to start so-called “membership action plans.” These questions should be decided by NATO’s members, not outsiders.

In February 2007, Putin, in an anti-Western tirade delivered in Munich, declared: “I think it is obvious that NATO expansion does not have any relation with the modernization of the Alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust.”

So Putin’s views about NATO are clear. He will scandalize the summit by seeking to intimidate the former Soviet clients in the room.