Western leaders offered closer integration but they were outmanoeuvred by Moscow
The refusal of Macedonia’s voters to endorse a change in their country’s name seems, at first glance, to be a matter of purely local interest. But the result of Sunday’s referendum will be widely seen as a significant victory for Vladimir Putin, a setback for the EU and Nato, and another disturbing example of Russia’s ability and willingness to influence the democratic process in western countries.
Western officials warned before the vote that Moscow was trying to depress turnout in the referendum in order to invalidate the outcome. In the event, more than 90% of those voting backed the name change.