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EXPERT SAYS COOPERATION WITH POLAND WILL ISOLATE UKRAINE. Dmitri Danilov, an expert at the Moscow Institute of Europe, told "Vremya novostei" on 28 December that the Russian government should move from the current exchange of allegations with Warsaw to a more cooperative stance. He said that many Russian politicans continue to view Poland as "America's fifth column in Central Europe." But that status will soon change, Danilov said. First of all, Poland will become a major player in the Council of Europe with almost as many votes as Britain, France or Germany. Moreover, its negative trade balance with Russia seems likely to produce a softening in Poland's attitudes toward Moscow. And finally, with such a shift in Russian policy, Warsaw would be more likely to agree to back away from Ukraine and allow Russian gas pipelines to cross Poland to Europe.
IS RUSSIAN DEFENSE PROBE AIMED AT UKRAINE? The Russian military's investigation into bribery accusations against the former chief of the Defense Ministry's Main Budget Administration Georgy Oleinik appears to have a political dimension with regard to Ukraine. That is because Oleinik is accused of having taken a three-million-dollar bribe from Yulia Timoshenko, the Ukrainian vice prime minister. (See RFE/RL Security Watch, no. 23) Indeed, Timoshenko described the efforts of Russian prosecutors to get her to testify "a provocation" to which she would never agree. But gazetasng.ru reported on 26 December, that the case will show her heavily involved in the laundering of $500 million of Russian funds through Ukraine's energy sector. Undermining Timoshenko in this way, some in Moscow appear to believe, would further undermine those in Kyiv who are promoting a pro-Western orientation.