Putin and Bush in Sochi: Either Improvement Of Relations With Russia Or Enlargement

Posted in Russia | 08-Apr-08 | Author: Dmitry Udalov

"No bilateral agreement has been reached"

After the Bucharest NATO summit, President Bush met again with President Putin in Sochi for bilateral consultations. Putin said he had discussed the issue of enlargement with U.S. President George W. Bush : “This enlargement is the same old logic, which used to define Russia as an enemy”, he declared in a very calm and almost friendly way, “I once again told him about the Russian position. In my opinion, they should not try to engage former Soviet republics into the military-political bloc but improve relations with Russia. In that case Russia’s attitude to the bloc activity will not be as watchful as it is now”, Putin warned.

He reiterated his stance towards the Alliance which he accused of failing to send the right signals: “To my mind, the mere growth of NATO is the old logic, which defined Russia as an enemy. Things have changed. As [Winston Churchill] once put it, the inability to change the subject is a sign of radicalism”, the Russian President joked.

In the issue of the missile shield, no bilateral agreement has been reached. George Bush was quoted as saying that the system would help protect Europe, Russia included, from regimes “that could try to hold us hostage." But Bush, here again, failed to convince the Russian President: "This is not about language. This is not about diplomatic phrasing or wording. This is about the substance of the issue," the US President said at the closing press conference. Putin’s proposal to allow a permanent Russian presence at the sites of deployment was rejected by both the Czech and the Polish government: "We are willing to negotiate about Russian inspections, but definitely not in a form of a permanent presence of Russian soldiers in the Czech Republic”, Czech Vice-Premier Alexandr Vondra said in Prague in the aftermath of the Sochi meeting.