The Poles in particular insisted that the issue (Tymoshenko) could not be allowed to torpedo the association agreement. Behind closed doors, President Bronisaw Komorowski said: "Never again do we want to have a common border with Russia."And there I think you have it; the EU's position was driven by Poland's desire not to the be the buffer between Western Europe and Russia, and an attempt to shift this role to Ukraine. It is, to be sure, an issue of concern to the Poles and Germans, the Czechs and Slovacs. But do the Spanish or the Italians really care whether Poland or Ukraine is the buffer? And are they consciously willing to pay the estimated €3bn to €12bn a year cost of shifting the buffer zone? The whole Ukraine dispute has the smell of a German-Polish initiative that was allowed to get out of hand - Ukrainian accession is by no means in the best interest of the EU as a whole.
And from the UK's rather more objective view, it IS Poland's job to be the buffer; that is what Poland is there for. Putin's game is by no means played out yet, and this winter will tell how firmly rooted is the the resolve of both the EU and Russia.